Dan Martin ready to step forward after Garmin-Sharp leaders crash out
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Saturday, July 07, 2012

Dan Martin ready to step forward after Garmin-Sharp leaders crash out

by Shane Stokes at 5:50 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Stage win and mountains jersey targets for Irish climber

Dan MartinAlthough he went into the Tour de France primarily as a support rider for Ryder Hesjedal, Tom Danielson and Christian Vande Velde, the circumstances of the race have thrust Dan Martin forward into a position where he is now the team’s best hopes for a strong Tour.

Hesjedal withdrew from the race today as a result of the injuries sustained in yesterday’s crash, while Danielson withdrew yesterday due to the same accident. Vande Velde remains in the race and while he was not too badly hurt in that fall, he is 127th overall, fifteen minutes 49 seconds back, and clearly out of the GC hunt.

Martin is riding his first Tour and has enjoyed good fortune thus far, avoiding falling during this opening week. “I almost felt guilty for not crashing…it was kind of awkward,” he told VeloNation yesterday evening, speaking from the team’s hotel in a former monastery.

Martin has now been told that he will be given the opportunity to chase success in the days ahead. Today’s stage to La Planche des Belles Filles is his first chance, with the steep climb to the finish a potential platform to a stage win in his first Tour de France.

“It’s terrible to see the guys crashing and be hurt,” he said. “From a personal point of view, the crashes have changed my position in the team. With Tom suffering, I was going to be Ryder’s lieutenant in the mountains, having to stay with him all the time. That would have impeded on how aggressive I could be. But now I have been told that I have a free rein in the mountains, and that the guys are going to help me.”

Martin has looked at the details of the climb but hasn’t yet seen it in person. It does however suit his characteristics, and he’ll hope to do the same as he did last year in the Vuelt a España; ride strongly on the slopes, be aggressive, and hit the line first.

“It’s my first Tour, so I have never climbed a col in the race. This is not really a col, but it suits me really well,” he said. “It is really steep, and if I get to the bottom in the front, I think I have got a chance. But we still don’t know, we have done 1200 kilometres in six days. Even though it hasn’t been that hard, I don’t know how that has impacted on my legs.”

His sensations are all good, though, and is looking forward to the chance. He’s fortunately not feeling huge pressure, even if the team’s chances of bouncing back after yesterday depend in part on how he does.

“I am pretty relaxed about things,” he stated. “I am nervous about having to fight for position, with all the crashes that are happening…it has been a scary few days. But it should be a hard stage and that should make it easier to be up there at the front.”

Martin also hopes to challenge in the King of the Mountains classification, and knows that a strong performance today could give him a chunk of points and potentially put him into the jersey tonight.

Because of the time losses he’s incurred in waiting for fallen team-mates, he’s over eighteen minutes back in the general classification and this too could help his chances in the days ahead. He’s no threat to the general classification and so if he can infiltrate a long distance break, is likely to be given a bit more leeway than would otherwise be the case.

That too will help in gathering points, and also in trying to hit the line first.

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