Cycling: Mountain man Martin misses Tour

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A knee injury has forced the talented young Irish climber Dan Martin to miss his Tour de France debut. Martin, who rides for David Millar and Bradley Wiggins' Garmin-Slipstream team, had been expected to provide key mountain support for the team leader Christian Vande Velde. However, the 22-year-old has come down with tendinitis in his right knee and will now be forced to sit out on cycling's blue riband event, which starts tomorrow.

"It can't be helped," Martin said yesterday. "I could do 10 days of the Tour perhaps before it got impossible to ride, and maybe the injury got so bad it would have been the last 10 days I rode this year. It's much better I rest up for three or four days, and I'm ready to go all out in the Tour of Spain."

It is still uncertain whether the Belgian sprinter Tom Boonen will finally be allowed to start the Tour. The Tour de France banned the Quick Step rider after Boonen returned two positive results for cocaine in out-of-race testing in the last year. But his squad have appealed to the French Arbitration Chamber for Sport and the Belgian has travelled to Monaco in the hope he will get a last-minute green light to race. A decision is expected today.