Dan Martin must focus on stage win in Volta a Catalunya

Irish rider’s focus on Giro d’Italia makes it unlikely he will retain title in Spain

Joaquim Rodriguez is on course to improve on his second overall in last year's Volta a Catalunya, with the Katusha rider holding his leader's jersey after yesterday's mountain stage to Vallter 2000.

Rodriguez finished second overall to Ireland's Dan Martin last year but seized the lead this time round when he won Wednesday's mountain leg. He finished four seconds behind the American stage winner Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) yesterday.

As for Martin, the freezing mountain stage showed that he needs further racing to approach the condition he had last year. He placed 12th, one minute 22 seconds back, and is now 20th overall.

His one minute 49 second deficit in the general classification means a repeat victory is now very unlikely, but he will likely aim for a stage win on one of the three remaining days of competition.


Martin’s first season goal is the defence of his Liège-Bastogne-Liège title next month, but May’s Giro d’Italia is the prime objective. He changed his buildup to the season in order to be in top shape for the race start in Belfast on May 9th.

In other news the organisers of the An Post Rás have announced details of two more teams for this year's race, with the Norwegian Continental team Motiv3 Pro Cycling and the Canadian national team to join the four previously announced international squads.

Strong contender
The Canadian team includes a strong overall contender, with Rémi Pelletier-Roy determined to improve on his fifth place overall last year, just 40 seconds off the yellow jersey.

The 2014 An Post Rás will begin in Dunboyne on Sunday May 18th.

Cycling Ireland has confirmed that the European Marathon Mountain Bike Championships will be held in Ballyhoura, Co Limerick, on June 14th and 15th. It will mark the first time Ireland has ever hosted a MTB world championship event. Amateur racing will take place on the 14th.Registration is now open on euromarathonchamps.com.

FIXTURES: Saturday: Harry Reynolds Memorial, Man O'War, Balbriggan; starts 4pm. Cicli Sport GP, Loup GAA club; 9am. Saturday-Sunday: Tour of Connacht, Sportlann Castlebar; 1 pm.
Sunday: Ben McKenna Memorial/Jazz Wherity Memorial, Ring Commons Sports Centre, Balbriggan; 11am. Aqua Blue Classic, Butler's Bar; 1pm. PJ Logan Cup, Gortgonis Leisure Complex; 11am.

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes is a contributor to The Irish Times writing about cycling