Dani Martinez earned his first WorldTour general classification podium in California on Saturday. The Colombian started the final stage of the Amgen Tour of California in third overall and finished on bunch time in Sacramento to round out the podium.
“For me, this is a very important result,” said Martinez. “It’s the best result of my career, the best result I’ve had in the WorldTour.”
“Dani is a very underestimated talent,” said EF Pro Cycling CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “There are plenty of 22-year-olds who came into this race with a lot more hype than Dani. I don’t quite get why that is. In any case, this is just the start for him. He’ll be one of the best stage race riders in the world over the next six or seven years.”
Martinez’s general classification campaign began on Gibraltar Road. The 22-year-old climbed to fifth place on stage two, the queen stage, and jumped up to sixth overall.
Two days later, Martinez swapped his Cannondale Evo for his Cannondale Super Slice and time trialed to 10th place on stage four. The stage result afforded Martinez a three spot gain on general classification, moving him up to third place.
Although Martinez lost time on Friday’s stage six in South Lake Tahoe, he never conceded any general classification positions. He started the final stage into Sacramento 2’14 behind race leader Egan Bernal (SKY) and two seconds ahead of Adam Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT), who sat in fourth.
“With only a two-second hold on third place and bonus seconds on offer throughout the day, it definitely was a bit of a challenge, a bit stressful today,” said road captain Simon Clarke. “We had to make sure we didn’t give away any of those bonus seconds to Adam Yates.”
A four-rider breakaway slipped away early on stage seven. Although the quartet was never granted a large gap, their advantage was enough to keep the peloton at bay for both intermediate sprints. With bonus seconds available to the first three across the intermediate sprint line, the escape negated Yates’ opportunity to leapfrog over Martinez on the overall.
“The team was great today, like every day,” said Martinez. “They were always around me, on the front, up the road when they needed to be. Everybody did his job.”
The team’s success was celebrated in Sacramento with both EF Education First, who hosted a booth at the Amgen Tour of California expo throughout the week, and Cannondale, who hosted several events for local dealers on the race’s opening and closing weekends.
“California was the first race in the USA that we’ve done since EF came on board,” said Vaughters. “We wanted to put on a good show for them and to make their first experience with US bike racing a fun one.”
“It was a really great week,” Clarke added. “It was quite important for us, the EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale team, being an American team, racing the only WorldTour race in American on the calendar, to come way with some nice results this week. We started the week knowing Dani was going strong, and we all committed to supporting him all the way to Sacramento. It was great to come away with a podium today.”
“Racing in the United States is something I enjoyed,” said Martinez. “The organization is spectacular. The mountains are very good. I like racing here very much, and I would be happy to come back.”