Dan Martin takes eighth place on first Tour de France road stage of his career
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Monday, July 02, 2012

Dan Martin takes eighth place on first Tour de France road stage of his career

by Shane Stokes at 7:19 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Garmin-Sharp rider pleased with start of debut Tour

Dan MartinIrish climber Dan Martin has had a very encouraging start to his first Tour de France, riding above his own expectations in Saturday’s time trial and then collecting a handy eighth place in Seraing yesterday. Martin was not well placed going into the final climb but finished towards the front of the peloton which just about latched onto the back of Peter Sagan (Liquigas Cannondale), Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack Nissan) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky).

He said his initial impressions of the Tour de France are that the race is ‘huge’ and a step up from what he has done before, but that he is pleased with things thus far.

“It’s not a bad start, is it?” he asked rhetorically when speaking to VeloNation after the stage. “My first ever Tour de France stage and I run top ten. It is definitely good for the confidence. Guys build this race up as being so nervous, and obviously it was today with a lot of crashes, but I got through it fine.”

Martin said that he got an idea of the scale of the race when he started the time trial on Saturday. He was on the start ramp, looked down and saw a huge number of photographers and spectators looking at him about to begin his Tour. Once he got going, he scale of it was also brought home to him in another way. “The noise was incredible,” he said. “It was like a tunnel through the crowds and it was so loud.”

Martin finished 55th in the time trial, 24 seconds back, despite Saturday being his first time to ride the Cervelo P5. As he stated in his new daily race diary in the Irish Times, the bike was delivered to the race on Friday as it had just become available in his size. He rode it in the prologue and said that he found it to be much quicker than last year’s machine.

Although a place just outside the top 50 may not seem stellar, he’s a specialist for the mountains and therefore isn’t too well suited to flat, short efforts. “Before I haven’t got the pacing right but got it spot on this time,” the Garmin-Sharp rider said. “I think it was a really good performance on my part, considering the state of the course and the times of the other climbers. It bode well for the future.”

Yesterday’s stage to Seraing took in a number of smaller climbs similar to those seen in the Ardennes Classics. Martin rode well in those this spring, netting sixth in Flèche Wallonne and fifth in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He said the stage was demanding in terms of the speed, particularly when in the final run in towards the climb when the peloton was doing 70 kilometres per hour on the flat.

The general tension also imposes demands on the riders. “The stress takes a lot of your energy away and stops you eating and drinking all the time,” he explained to VeloNation. “And although we don’t have a really high average power or calorie output, it is just the stress and the sprinting out of the corners. That’s why this race is different –it is all about positioning, fighting for your place. If normally I just let ten guys sprint past me at the corner, you can’t do that here as you are never going to make those places back up.”

Martin’s immediate goal is to stay out of trouble and save energy where possible. He’s unsure as yet if he’ll ride flat out in the first long time trial or hold back, but once the race hits hillier terrain he’s promised to strike out for a stage win.

He began today’s second stage 24th overall, 24 seconds behind Cancellara.

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