In-form Dan Martin sets sights on second Liège race win

Irish rider finished runner-up in Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday to Alejandro Valverde

 Daniel Martin  on the podium salutes crowd after taking  second place in the Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday. Photograph: Julien Warnand/EPA

Daniel Martin on the podium salutes crowd after taking second place in the Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday. Photograph: Julien Warnand/EPA

 

Runner-up on Wednesday in Flèche Wallonne, Dan Martin will start this Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège as one of the favourites. The QuickStep Floors rider took the event in 2013 and looked to be in with a strong chance of winning again one year later, but crashed on the final corner.

He came from a long way back on the finishing climb on Wednesday to take second behind Alejandro Valverde. He was frustrated not to win, having placed third last year, second in 2014, fourth in 2013 and sixth in 2012.

However, given the result plus the ground he made up inside the final 100 metres, he has reason to believe he is in the running for Sunday’s race.

“Although things weren’t perfect and I didn’t have good legs today, I managed to come back and grab second place at the end of the race,” he said on Wednesday. “This makes me look with optimism to Liège-Bastogne-Liège.”

The race is one of his top targets for the season.

In contrast, Martin’s first cousin Nicolas Roche is not riding the Ardennes classics. He has had a break from racing since the Vuelta al Pais Vasco earlier this month, and will next compete in the Tour de Romandie. The Swiss event begins next Tuesday and runs for six days.

BMC Racing Team leaders Tejay Van Garderen and Richie Porte will also ride the event, and so it remains to be seen if Roche will be given freedom to chase personal results.

An Post Rás

Meanwhile the first British teams for this year’s An Post Rás have been named, joining the previously-announced seven international teams.

The Neon Velo and the Bike Channel Canyon squad will be part of the lineup in the world-ranked race, which will start from Dublin Castle on May 21st.

The Bike Channel Canyon team will include Rás veteran Rob Partridge, who previously finished fourth and sixth overall in the race. His teammates include Dexter Gardias, who was fourth on stage one of last year’s race.

The Neon Velo squad includes Irish international track rider Marc Potts, as well as Britons Mike Cuming and Elliott Porter. Cuming was sitting fifth overall halfway through the 2015 Rás but suffered a head injury in a crash and had to withdraw.

Porter is a strong climber but he too had bad luck, crashing out of last year’s race.

The 2017 An Post Rás is 1,200 kilometres in length and features stage finishes in Longford, Newport, Bundoran, Buncrana, Dungloe, Donegal, Ardee and Skerries.

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