Who’s Paul Martens?
He’s a solid professional, comes from Rostock in Germany and rides for Belkin; here’s what he says about himself on his website:
I was born in 1983 in Rostock, Germany.
I live in Belgium, married and father of a daughter.
A lot of professional cyclists live in the Limburg area; it’s a beautiful place to train, close to the Amstel Gold Race circuit and the Ardennes.
Flat roads can be found as well around Tongeren and Hasselt.
I am mainly a ‘One-day cyclist’ – The classics; ‘Amstel Gold Race’ and ‘Liege-Bastogne-Liege’ are highlights, together with the 300km ‘Milan-San-Remo’.
I am explosive, have a fast sprint and like the long distances.
Those ingredients make me an all-round cyclist, capable of winning races with a tough final.
And back in June he joined that exclusive club of national tour winners, taking the Tour of Luxembourg – a result rather lost in the pre-Tour hysteria.
His career started in earnest in 2005 with a win in the German U23 TT championship – a performance which earned him a stagiaire ride with T-Mobile.
The stagiaire place didn’t lead to a contract, however and it was with Dutch squad Skil that Martens entered the world of the pros in 2006. That season saw him take wins in the Tour of Luxembourg and Munster Giro.
His second season with Sean Kelly’s old sponsors saw a stage win and second on GC in the Ster Elektrotoer.
For 2008 the name on the jersey was Rabobank and his first Grand Tour ride in the Giro.
The next season saw him ride the Vuelta and on the podium in that tough GP Plouay.
For 2010 there was fourth in the Brabantse Pijl, 11th in the Amstel, 15th in Liege and a win the GP Wallonie.
The following year saw another Vuelta ride, 10th in Brabantse Pijl and 13th in Liege.
Last season, 2012, he won a stage in the Vuelta Ciclista a Burgos.
This season started well with a stage win in the Volta ao Algarve and third in the Hel van het Merglland before his Luxembourg triumph.
With stage placings of sixth, third, fourth and second it was an emphatic win.
Most recently he took fifth in the Arctic Tour.
Here’s what he had to say to VeloVeritas just a few days ago:
A nice win in Luxembourg, Paul – your best?
“It´s a huge victory for me because it was my first stage race victory but my other victories are not lesser – just different.”
This must be your best season?
“If I look at the statistics it´s my best season, but nevertheless 2010 still feels my best season.
“I was good in even the biggest races with world class riders – but that season was interrupted by a big crash where I couldn’t race for three month.”
You’re very consistent, ‘there’ from spring to autumn
“I try to be professional and I just like cycling, so I always train pretty well.”
Why no deal with T-Mobile?
“That was definitely a strange situation; I thought I would get a contract but my results at the Worlds weren’t good enough, apparently.”
Tell us about Skil, please.
“My period at Skil was really nice; we were all friends and I learned to love racing and just enjoy my profession – it can be over faster than you want.”
Why always Netherlands teams?
“I always stayed in contact with the German teams, but the situation in Germany got worse; teams disappeared and I got more and more involved at Rabobank – so it feels a bit like some sort of ‘family business’.”
Do you live in The Netherlands?
“No, I live in Belgium five kilometres from Maastricht.
“I race a lot in Belgium, so it was the right step to live there.”
European Tour to World Tour – a big jump.
“The Rabobank team was much bigger, more staff, more budget – and a lot more pressure from the media.”
Rabobank to Blanco to Belkin . . .
“The jump from Rabobank to Blanco was actually a lot bigger with different people, different sponsors and a different hierarchy within the team.
“Changing to Belkin only meant getting new clothes.”
Tell us about the ‘sports school’ you attended in Germany.
“We started school at 07:00 in the morning until around 14:00; then athletic training/power training in the winter or track rides in the summer – and road training of course.
“But the school was pretty flexible; so if we had to do long rides before a big event we could skip some hours at school.”
Heinrich Haussler was a contemporary and says you were a ‘Party Animal?’
“Well, we went out together quite often with a whole bunch of supporters.
“But we trained hard as well the next day.
“Since I became a full professional I’ve changed my lifestyle a lot.”
You started as a track rider . . .
“Actually I never liked riding on the track.
“I never felt comfortable on a fixie during the races but the good results I got gave me confidence for the road as well.”
You’ve been a very serious athlete for a decade – what are the biggest changes you’ve seen?
“It’s become more and more professional; teams have several trainers and nutritionists.
“Years ago training was just a ride for several hours – now everyone does intervals and specific workouts.
“That’s the reason that the whole level within the peloton has risen.”
“I think that public opinion about cycling is still not good enough to convince a big sponsor to invest a big amount of money.”
The French Senate report?
“Well, there’s been a lot of money invested to clear up the past but that doesn’t help us at present.
“I would love to see this money invested in more controls and anti-doping programs for younger categories.”
One thing to improve the UCI?
“That’s not so easy to answer but I think that better communication between UCI, the Teams, the race organisers and riders would be a good start.”
If you could win just one race . . .
“I’d love to win the Amstel Gold Race.”