Dan Martin says Tour de France route change gives him strong chance

Irish pro expects to make strong challenge in 2017 after best ever effort this year

Dan Martin, who was at this week's 2017 Tour de France route unveiling, has given the course design a thumbs up and said he is confident he can do well.

The Irish pro had his best-ever general classification performance in the race this year, netting ninth overall in Paris. However, he arguably could have been several places higher had he delayed his mountain attacks in the second half of the race.

“I have definitely got a lot more belief,” he said at Tuesday’s tour launch in Paris. “I know I can ride GC [general classification] here now. I know how to do it.

“This year was all about learning – learning the team, learning myself. And learning where my weaknesses are in the tour and how to tactically race the tour. It is different to the other grand tours.”


Steep climbs

Next July’s route has just three summit finishes, with other mountain stages ending after descents to the line. However, several of the climbs are steeper than usual, which should play to Martin’s strengths. So would the reduction in time-trial kilometres, with those limited to just a 13km opening-day effort and a 23km penultimate-day battle.

“It is very exciting to see a course that potentially suits me very well,” Martin said. “It has got me wanting to train already . . . this is bad for me, I think. I have got to calm down a bit.

“It is going to be a really close race. It is very important to not have a bad day. It is even more so a tour where if you have one bad day you lose a lot more time.

“It is going to be very aggressive, and I think that suits me more. Obviously everybody is going to be thinking of Chris [Froome] for the last time trial, so everybody is interested to take time [where they can].”

Track championships

In other news, Felix English was a solid fifth in the scratch race on Wednesday's opening day of the European track championships in Paris. The women's team pursuit squad of Lydia Boylan, Eileen Burns, Lydia Gurley and Anna Turvey were eighth on Thursday, with team sprint duo Eimear Moran and Robyn Stewart ninth.

Irish riders will compete each day between now and Sunday. The squad comprises four men and seven women.

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes

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