Dan Martin on worlds: ‘This is normally my time of year, I can be really good’
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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Dan Martin on worlds: ‘This is normally my time of year, I can be really good’

by Shane Stokes at 7:04 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, World Championships
 
Irish climber speaks about the course, his chances and the dangermen

Dan MartinIrish rider Dan Martin is one of the outsiders for today’s world road race championships but as his second place in last year’s Giro di Lombardia proved, when he’s on good form he’s one of the best hilly Classics riders in the bunch.

After riding his first Tour de France, he’s been building up for a big end of season and said he is encouraged by his sensations heading into today’s race.

“I have been getting better and better every day,” he told VeloNation. “I was really fatigued going into Plouay and I had a bit of a rough spell just before Canada. I started feeling better in Canada, but then the travel messed my body clock around.

“I have been really, really focussed since I got back from Canada. I realised that this is normally my time of the year and I can be really good. I trained really well this week and started to feel better and better every day. I have been getting plenty of quality massage. I am getting better and every day I am more optimistic for Sunday.”

Today’s race is expected to be shaped by multiple ascents of the Cauberg. The Eite riders will scale it eleven times, but before that have 100 kilometres of roads prior to reaching the circuit. Martin said that he knows the first 50 kilometres or more from the Amstel Gold Race, but between there and the circuit he is ‘a bit sketchy’ in terms of how hard the course is.

As regards the climb itself, he suggested that it’s relatively easy to hide in the bunch, at least early on, and get over the top without too much difficulty. It will of course be a different matter close to the end.

“I think it will be a really open race. A lot of teams have got an interest in making it an aggressive race,” he said. “On that circuit I can definitely see a break going to the finish…not from the start, but from two or three laps to go. If a strong break goes, it is going to be difficult to get it back.”

One thing he felt could influence the effect of the climb are the weather conditions. “I think the wind is going to be a play a big part<" he explained. "If there is a headwind over the Cauberg, then it is going to really negate any attacks. But if there is a tailwind over the top, it will make it a really fast race. It would lead to more splits obviously over the top of the climb.

“What is good about the course is that it is a climb and then flat. There is no downhill straight after the climb. That really makes things hard and it is really going to sort the strong guys out. It is the end of the year as well and guys will have different levels of freshness. That definitely plays out in the worlds. I think you are going to see some guys who you don’t expect to be up there and other guys who you thought would be there might not have a good day.”

Martin is a strong climber, riding the major climbs well in Grand Tours, but is also at home on shorter, sharper ascents. He showed that in the Giro di Lombardia last year and also this season when he was fifth in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and sixth overall in Flèche Wallonne.

His second strong point is that he is a surprisingly quick sprinter from a small group. However he knows his limitations too, and will choose his tactics accordingly.

“Obviously if it comes down to a sprint, I am not going to be able to go up against Boonen or Freire or even Heino [Heinrich Haussler], my team-mate. Then you have Simon Gerrans and Gilbert as well. I will see how the race goes and try to read it properly.

“I think it is just going to be a really great one to watch. I think it is going to be very open. There are a lot of contenders and a really well designed course. It seems really safe…unlike the Olympic course [which was on very narrow roads – ed.], if you want to be able to race you will be able to race.”

Unlike the big teams enjoyed by the likes of Italy, Belgium, Spain and others, Ireland has just three riders in today’s event. Ronan McLaughlin rode well in the Tour of Britain and will play a good supporting role to Martin and Nicolas Roche. The latter can also be strong on punchy courses, but his chances will depend on how he has recovered after placing twelfth in the Vuelta a España.

“I think he has been resting since the Vuelta,” Martin said of his frst cousin Roche. “I have never done two in a year so it is hard to say, but once you have done a Grand Tour you tend to feel pretty terrible but you are also super strong. Nico has only one day to focus on [this is his last race this season – ed.]

“With the number of Irish supporters out here this weekend, there is going to be some atmosphere out there on the climb. I am sure that will really drive him on to be in the front near the final. If he is not feeling too good, he will be there to help me as well. With Ronan as well we have got a strong team here.

“If I am feeling good, who knows what can happen? You have got to be optimistic.”

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