Monday, 17 June 2013

Where Are They Now - Miguel Martinez

Miguel Martinez

In his prime Miguel Martinez "Little Mig" was the undisputed king of men's cross country racing, sealing his status with a strong win in the 2000 summer Olympics in Sydney Australia.  The French cyclist who at the time rode for Sunn dominated the sport, but after 2005 his presence was no longer noticeable at XC races.

Early Years

Martinez was born on 17th January 1976 in Fourchambault, Nieve.  His father, Mariano, was a great cyclist before him having rode on Merckx's team and was considered at the time to be a great climber. He had in his time won the king of the Mountains title in the Tour de France.  Even from the age of six Martinez recollects not only his fathers influence on him with cycling but also his family which have a great tradition with cycling. At first he started with riding on the rode but by the age of ten he had started Mountain Biking.  As he matured and grew stronger he realised that he could do well with in the sport and along with cyclocross racing moved away from rode racing.

By 1994 Miguel Martinez was starting to dominate XC racing amongst the juniors and so won his first World Championships, this was as well as an impressive 3rd place at the Cyclocross Championships.  By the time Martinez had won his gold medal at Sydney in 2000 he had won two World Cup Series, Three World XC Championships as well as a Cyclocross Championship,  two European Champioships medals and a bronze medal at the 1996 Olympics at Atlanta.

Year           Event                                                         Place                  Result
1995          World Championship XC                         Kirchzarten            2
1996          National Championships                                                          1
                  World Championships XC                        Cairns                     2
                  World Championships Cyclocross            Corva                     1
                  World Cup XC                                                                         3
                  Olympics                                                   Atlanta                   3
1997          World Championships XC                       Chateaux D'Oex     1
                  World Cup XC                                                                         1
1998          World Championships XC                       Mont Sainte-Anne  1
                  World Cup XC                                                                         2
1999          World Cup XC                                                                         2
                  European Championship XC                                                   1
2000          Olympics                                                 Sydney                     1
                  World Cup XC                                                                         1
                  European Championships XC                                                  1
2001          World Cup XC                                                                         3     

The Move To The Road

Martinez now looked towards Road racing and fresh targets after all he had now won all the major events in Mountain Biking, and felt that road racing would be more competitive. In truth his results had started to wain and so in 2002 he signed a three year deal with Mapei-Quickstep whilst at the same time raced some MTB XC events and Endurance events with Full Dynamix, a move his father had insisted on. on This team he was also to join another MTB legend and future Tour de France winner Cadel Evans who had been a big rival during the late 90s.

By 2003 Martinez had joined Phonak racing team but by the end of the year went into a semi retirement, racing irregularly but never really producing the form of old.  He was said to have become alluded to the amount of doping in road racing and not wanting to be part of it as reason for leaving. He returned in 2008 to the Italian team Amore e Vita, stating “I always rode to the best of my ability without doping it was made clear to me that I wasn’t operating in the way that was required. Today I really have the impression that things have changed. I’m convinced that cycling has moved in the right direction and I want a second chance to continue my career at the highest level.”

By 2009 Little Mig had made the decision to return back to his first love of MTBing and was set to race for Felt International Racing team but was sacked from the team 
A press statement from Felt reads – “We would like to inform you that the contract with Miguel Martinez has been cancelled due to unbridgeable differences.   The athlete behaved inexcusably and violated his contract. He is dismissed effective immediately.”
Martinez was given a four month suspended sentence for assaulting his wife by a French court.  He has been in mediation several times over the past two years for violent incidents.

Present Day

2013 is a fresh start for Martinez who has again returned to Mountain Biking but with Italian FRM Factory racing Team who produce high-level components and bikes.

"Now that I am free from all contractual ties” – the athlete has said – “I want to race with a team capable of offering me the necessary serenity along with a bicycle that I have dreamt of for years.

Mirko Pirazzoli, in his double role of Commercial Director of FRM and new Team mate to the French Champion says “Having Miguel with us is a great stimulus: competition is constantly increasing, Miguel has the motivation and the conditions to shoot back to the top, but for us it is sufficient that he has fun”.

This has proved a healthy approach for Martinez who surprised everyone with a strong win at the 2013 Sea Otter Classic.  Whilst he hasn't been the dominate rider he once was he recently got 14th at the third round of the World Cup, it remains to be seen whether the little Frenchman can find the form and find his way back on the podium a sight not many would begrudge him.

 Event  Discipline  Pos  Date  Season 
 Val di Sole  Men's Olympic Cross Country  14  15/06/2013   2013
 Val di Sole  Men's Olympic Cross Country - Eliminator - Qualification   12  13/06/2013   2013
 Val di Sole  Men's Olympic Cross Country - Eliminator  25  13/06/2013   2013
 Albstadt  Men's Olympic Cross Country  41  19/05/2013   2013
 UCI World Championships Mountain Bike Marathon  Men's Marathon Cross-country  35  05/07/2008   2008
 Manavgat / Antalya   Men's Marathon Cross-country  33  16/03/2008   2008
 L'Hexagonal  L'Hexagonal  4  19/08/2007   2007
 L'Hexagonal  L'Hexagonal - Stage 8  1 First 15/08/2006   2007
 L'Hexagonal  L'Hexagonal - Stage 6  1 First 13/08/2006   2007
 L'Hexagonal  L'Hexagonal - Stage 1  1 First 08/08/2006   2007
 Curacao  Men's Olympic Cross Country  41  01/04/2006   2006
 World Championships Mountainbike   Cross Country Men  20  04/09/2005   2005
 European Championships  Men's Olympic Cross Country  11  31/07/2005   2005
 L'Hexagonal  L'Hexagonal  4  19/06/2005   2005
 Houffalize  Cross Country Men  12  29/05/2005   2005
 Madrid  Cross Country Men  25  08/05/2005   2005
 Spa Francorchamps  Cross Country Men  9  24/04/2005   2005
 European Championships  Men's Olympic Cross Country  4  01/07/2004   2004
 L'Hexagonal  L'Hexagonal  1 First 18/06/2004   2004
 L'Hexagonal  L'Hexagonal - Stage 7  1 First 17/06/2004   2004
 L'Hexagonal  L'Hexagonal - Stage 5  1 First 15/06/2004   2004
 World Championships Mountainbike  Men's Olympic Cross Country  49  07/09/2003   2003
 UCI World Championships Mountain Bike Marathon  Men's Marathon Cross-country  21  31/08/2003   2003
 L'Hexagonal  L'Hexagonal  7  17/08/2003   2003
 L'Hexagonal  L'Hexagonal - Stage 7  1 First 16/08/2003   2003
 L'Hexagonal  L'Hexagonal - Stage 6  1 First 15/08/2003   2003
 L'Hexagonal  L'Hexagonal - Stage 1  1 First 10/08/2003   2003
 World Championships Mountainbike  Men's Olympic Cross Country  45  16/09/2001   2001
 European Championships  Men's Olympic Cross Country  12  2001   2001
 Olympic Games  Men's Olympic Cross Country  1 First 24/09/2000   2000
 World Championships Mountainbike  Men's Olympic Cross Country  1 First 10/06/2000   2000
 European Championships  Men's Olympic Cross Country  17  2000   2000
 World Championships Mountainbike  Men's Olympic Cross Country  2  19/09/1999   1999
 European Championships  Men's Olympic Cross Country  1 First 1999   1999
 Olympic Games  Men's Olympic Cross Country  3  30/07/1996   1996
 World Championships Mountainbike  Men's Olympic Cross Country  2  19/09/1995   1995



Another good read Jez! For your suggestions request how about Caroline Alexander?

Thanks for reading! I'm looking into doing a British all star one. There's a certain lack of stuff on most of them but it should include the likes of Tim Gould, Barrie Clarke, Caroline Alexander, Adrian Timmis, etc British riders from the golden age of XC racing basically.

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