Ambitious in outlook, aggressive in tactics
Dan Martin is leader of the Garmin-Sharp team for the Vuelta a Espana (Spanish Grand Tour) and will have the full backing of his team-mates
While he became ill towards the end of this year’s Tour and dropped out of the top 10 overall, Martin took encouragement from his performance before that point. “I know for sure that I can finish top 10 in the Tour,” he said. “If I hadn’t got sick, it would have happened. And I won a stage, so I can do that again in the future.”
On paper at least, Martin could be one of the riders fighting for the final overall victory. He’s a strong climber and with almost a dozen uphill finishes plus a lack of time trial kilometres, the odds are stacked in favour of a rider with his characteristics.
‘Do my best’
However, he’s adamant that he is not going into the race with that in mind as a goal. “I am not even thinking about GC [general classification]. It is the same as I approached things with the Tour. I am here to just do my best and to chase stages, and if the GC happens, it happens.
“But the fact that there are 11 mountain top finishes definitely suits me. I don’t think I am going to be too bad in the first couple of days. I don’t think I am going win stages then, it will take me a while to get going because I’ve concentrated on being fresh, but I will be okay.
“That said, I do think the GC is a possibility, but I am not going to stress about it. I am not going to tell you that I am going to finish in the top five of GC, as that is not an ambition of mine. My ambition is to be world champion, and this is the best way of preparing for the World Championships.
“If results come my way during the course of this race, then yeah I am going to take them with both hands, but I’ll see how things play out. That said, I am in a very, very relaxed, confident mood coming into this race.”
Fight for gold
Nicolas Roche is also riding the event and will have protected status with the Saxo Tinkoff squad. He is also expected to be part of the Irish team in the World Championships.
Martin’s got the confidence and the characteristics to be world champion, as his Liège-Bastogne-Liège victory earlier this year proved.
Now he needs to build the condition to fight for gold, and will do so over the next three weeks.
That’s the primary target, but one or more stage wins plus a high overall finish are also possible in the Spanish tour.
Dan Martin will bring behind the scenes details of his race in his daily Vuelta a Espana diary, starting Monday.