Martin in the right form to challenge for Japan Cup
CYCLING:HAVING SHOWN excellent form last week in winning the King of the Mountains competition and netting fourth overall in the Tour of Beijing, Dan Martin heads to Utsunomiya to compete this weekend’s Japan Cup.
The Garmin-Sharp rider took a solo victory in the race two years ago and is in the right form to challenge again for the win this Sunday.
Martin had been sitting third overall in Beijing but lost out in the final seconds of the race when Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) finished third in the sprint to the line and secured the bonus seconds he needed to move above the Irish pro.
Still, the performance in the WorldTour event was a very impressive one, and earned Martin a healthy chunk of world ranking points.
With that being the final WorldTour event of the year, he moved up 21 places to 16th overall. His points gain also gave Ireland a boost, nudging the country up to the same position in the nations’ rankings.
Martin, Nicolas Roche and the other Irish pros are giving good encouragement to the younger riders trying to break through to the top level.
Sam Bennett is one of those and after experiencing intermittent knee problems for the past couple of seasons, has had both legs operated on in hospital.
Bennett underwent minor key hole surgery to clear out the joints, which should help him next season. He competed with the An Post Grant Thornton Seán Kelly team this year and clocked up several good results, including an impressive ride on stages of the Tour of Britain.
Meanwhile, compatriot Aaron Buggle has signed a contract to race with the British Rapha Condor team in 2013. Buggle will join returning rider Felix English, who remains with John Herety’s squad.
Both will aim for the best possible results to help their progress in the sport.
Concerns that the Tour of Ulster would not take place next year due to a lack of volunteers have been assuaged, with a number of clubs coming together to ensure that the event has the necessary support.
The race is a strong fixture in its own right and is also important in the build-up for those who are riding the An Post Rás. The news of it continuation will be a great relief for Irish cycling.
Sunday: Cody’s Challenge ride, Richill Centre, first group leaves at 9.45; Round 2, Ulster cyclo cross series, Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park, Belfast.