CYCLIST Dan Martin claims the media have attempted to “invent/ create a family feud” with his uncle, Irish cycling legend Stephen Roche, following controversial comments made by Roche last week.
Roche had claimed that his Birmingham-born nephew “became Irish because it suited him” and also spoke about his rift with Dan's father, Neil Martin, also a former cyclist, during an unusually frank interview in Derry.
Suggesting that his nephew had chosen Ireland rather than Great Britain to advance his career, Roche added: “No disrespect to Dan, he basically became Irish to get on the Irish team to go to the national races.
“Which is good. It goes to show you that without Ireland helping Dan, Dan wouldn't be where he is today. He wouldn't have got any exposure or any international races.
"But Dan was always British. Then he became Irish because it suited him."
The Irish Post contacted Martin this morning regarding Roche’s comments, but he refused to comment on what he labelled as a "misinterpretation".
In an earlier tweet he said,
— Dan Martin (@DanMartin86) April 19, 2014
Martin, 27, whose mother is Roche's sister Maria, has represented Ireland since 2006 and is competing in the Giro d'Italia, which gets underway in Ireland on May 9.
In a recent interview with the Irish Post he discussed why he made the initial decision years ago to race for Ireland instead of Great Britain and his pride in doing so.
“It was easy to ride for GB when I was young; I went to school in the UK. National series, national championships, national team was all based where I was living, but Ireland was always close to my heart,” he said.
“I’ve always supported Ireland in every other sport and the Irish Federation were always asking me to be Irish and once I moved to France there was no reason for me to stay English anymore.”
“I mean I was considered as English in my first year in the U23, but became disillusioned with how impersonal the British Federation was and the lack of respect that they show you. When you’ve got another Federation that’s really desperate to work with you that’s very appealing.
“I haven’t looked back since. I love riding for Ireland now, it’s definitely important to me, the nationality I’ve taken on.”
Speaking in Derry last week, his uncle Stephen Roche also revealed tensions existed between Martin's father Neil and himself.
These dated back over 30 years, when Roche gained a place with a leading French team. Neil Martin had also been riding with the team, but was let go, around the time Roche was recruited. Roche said he learnt later that this had caused friction and claimed that Neil Martin had "a chip on his shoulder".
Neil Martin has previously denied any bitterness over what happened, but has said he believed Roche could have done more to help his career.
Roche's son Nicolas (29) is also riding in the Giro. The race will be in Ireland for three days. Two stages will take place in Co Antrim, with a third seeing riders go from Armagh to Dublin.