Volta a Catalunya: Martin on verge of biggest stage race success, set for head to head with Rodriguez
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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Volta a Catalunya: Martin on verge of biggest stage race success, set for head to head with Rodriguez

by VeloNation Press at 9:46 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Volta a Catalunya
 
Spanish rival states that his sensations are better than last year

Dan MartinCurrently competing in the final stage of the Volta a Catalunya and poised to take what would be the biggest stage race success of his career, Dan Martin is hoping that things play out in his favour on the tough finishing circuit in Barcelona.

The riders will face eight laps of the Montjuic climb and although the short, sharp ascents suit Rodriguez, Martin is also good on such climbs and believes that he has a solid chance. He moved into the race lead and opened a ten second lead over Rodriguez on Thursday when he won the mountain stage to Port Ainé-Rialp.

Since then he has continued to eke out time over the Catalan rider plus his other challengers. He picked up four seconds on Friday, with one of those coming from his third place in an intermediate sprint, and the second happening when the bunch split inside the final kilometre of stage five.

Yesterday saw more success in this regard, with Martin taking the intermediate sprint at Alcarrás ahead of two of his team-mates. This gave him an additional three seconds, increasing his advantage over Rodriguez to a solid seventeen seconds.

He has also pulled further ahead of Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Movistar Team) and the 2012 Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins (Sky Procycling), who are 45 and 54 seconds back respectively.

Speaking to Marca, Martin said that he was relaxed but determined heading into the final stage.

“I don’t feel pressure. For me, winning the queen stage of this race made me happy,” he said, before admitting that he might feel a little nervous this morning.

Picking up three seconds yesterday was important for his confidence, and may prove decisive in the overall classification if Rodriguez does manage to get a gap. “We got a bonus….the team has helped me be where I am and now I have 17 seconds before reaching Barcelona,” he said.

Speaking to VeloNation, he said that the outcome will come down to how he is feeling. “We have got a strong team and I trust them. Sunday will be a tough stage but it is all about the legs,” he said. “If I am strong enough, I should be okay to follow Joaquim [Rodriguez]. I just hope I have good legs and stay out of trouble.”

As for Rodriguez, he said that in general terms, he is pleased with how he is feeling. The 2012 world number one has set key targets, and believes that he has a good level. “The sensations are better than last year. I don’t know if I’ll get ten wins and it may be difficult to repeat a podium in a Grand Tour, but it is sure that I will win others that will be just as good,” he told EFE.

“There is always pressure, but I am confident that this year I will improve. I felt great in Tirreno-Adriatico and also in Oman. It’s a perfect time for me and I’m very motivated for what is ahead.”

His big targets include the Ardennes Classics, as well as the Tour de France and the world championships.

As for the Volta a Catalunya, it’s his home race and he will do his utmost today to try to recoup the seventeen seconds that he is behind. Martin has a good buffer and believes he can do it; either way, with Rodriguez sure to attack and other challengers within a minute, the racing should be electric.

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