Dan Martin Interview: ‘To win Catalunya is great…I am a rider who feeds off confidence’
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Monday, March 25, 2013

Dan Martin Interview: ‘To win Catalunya is great…I am a rider who feeds off confidence’

by Shane Stokes at 11:56 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Volta a Catalunya
 
Garmin-Sharp rider believes race success will have a lasting effect on his career

Dan MartinWinner yesterday of the WorldTour Volta a Catalunya ahead of riders such as Joaquim Rodriguez and Bradley Wiggins, Dan Martin has underlined how important the success is for him mentally, and said that he believes it will boost his career in the long term.

The 26 year old came under sustained attack from Rodriguez, the 2012 WorldTour champion, but was able to resist the surges and to protect his overall lead until the end. He’ll now seek to carry the physical and mental momentum the win generates into the Ardennes Classics, where victory in one of the three races will be a big goal.

“I have been so close to winning ProTour races in the past,” the Irishman told VeloNation yesterday evening. “Obviously I won Poland before, but that’s a couple of years ago now. I was second in Lombardia, second in Poland, fourth in Beijing, second in Catalunya. I have been so near so many times [in Catalunya – ed.] so to finally win this is incredible.”

While he points out that the 2010 Tour de Pologne was his first WorldTour victory, it should be considered that race takes place during the timeframe of the Tour de France, and consequently doesn’t attract the same level of riders. Catalunya is a different story, though, with some of the top guns in cycling going for the win.

Rodriguez is from Barcelona and was fired up to take overall victory there, while Wiggins made his intentions clear on day one with a flat out descent to the finish and a bid to grab sprint victory there.

Because so many pro riders live in Girona – as Martin does himself – they are also fired up to perform in their ‘home’ race.

“Seeing the competition we have this week, this result is really great for me,” he said. “I am a rider who feeds off confidence. The team showed confidence in me from the first stage here, really gave me belief in myself. That played a part in the win.

“I think I have shown that I have matured as a rider as well. In the past years there was no way I would have in that breakaway on the first day on the downhill. However I really believed that I was one of the best riders in the race and forced my way to the front at the top of the downhill and made the split.

“The same goes for the mountain stage that I won…to have the confidence to take the risk to go in the breakaway, to risk that was going to work out…I used a lot of intuition for that one and instinct, and it worked out. They are both examples of ways I have matured and ways that I have really shown a lot more self belief now.”

Last year Martin finished sixth in Flèche Wallonne and fifth in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, achieving those performances despite being injured beforehand. He’s got his mind focussed on achieving big results in those Classics this year, and containing the attacks of Rodriguez yesterday – who was the winner in the 2012 Flèche race – will increase his self belief.

Dan Martin“For sure the Ardennes is always a big goal,” he confirmed. “This victory has come as bit of a surprise but obviously we will take it. I will go to the Ardennes and really hope for a couple of big results there…they are really races that I love doing.”

In the interview below Martin gives further reactions to his victory, speaking about the final stage, the attacks he faced and the tactics he employed, as well as his thoughts on the Classics, on the UCI WorldTour title and also the Tour de France.


VeloNation: You have just won the Volta a Catalunya after twice being second in the past. Those near misses have got to make this victory all the more sweet. How do you feel?

Dan Martin: It’s great, I’m really happy. Especially because it was in this race, in what is essentially the home race for me and my team. It’s also great to win against the competition that we had this year. To be honest, when I first decided to come here, I didn’t expect there to be the high level of competition that we had.

The race this year really was a who’s who if cycling. It’s incredible. And so too was having the support of the team I had here and how they have ridden for me as well – I am so proud to be a part of this team.

I felt a lot of relief today…it wasn’t so much the relief when I crossed the finish line, it was the relief when I got to three kilometres to go. If the worst happens, it was just a case that I would throw myself on the floor and get the same time!

When Joaquim attacked on that last lap, I felt really in control. I felt just focused, I couldn’t feel my legs as I was so concentrated. That was the same for the last few days. I didn’t let myself feel too happy after the stage win as I knew that the job lay ahead and I couldn’t relax then. So I’ve finished it off…it is an incredible feeling.

I didn’t actually realise I was under so much pressure until this morning, when I started feeling really quite nervous. So the release in pressure when I crossed that finish line was incredible.

To see the reaction of my team-mates too…it has been so important to all of us, it is just a great feeling.

VN: You started the day seventeen seconds ahead of Joaquim Rodriguez. Did he attack much?

DM: Yeah… His team was super aggressive all day. They rode really hard at the start and obviously they threw a lot at us. But Tom Danielson looked after me. I always had a couple of team-mates with me at all times. That was really a show of strength on our part. I never panicked and just felt in control all day.

The first couple of laps on the circuit we rode so hard that I was starting to get worried, because I was really starting to hurt. But then the pace seemed to slacken a bit and I think it really showed the fatigue of what has been a hard week of racing here. It was almost the case that nobody really had any explosiveness left, which really played into my hands, I think.

Joaquim attacked a couple of times on the climb but I was just straight onto his wheel, focussed on his wheel, and that was it.

Dan MartinVN: What do you think is possible this year now? I presume the Ardennes is the next big goal?

DM: Yeah, for sure the Ardennes is always a big goal. This victory has come as bit of a surprise but obviously we will take it. I will go to the Ardennes and really hope for a couple of big results there. They are really races that I love doing. After that, we haven’t really…I will hopefully have a bit of a break after the Ardennes and we will start focussing on the rest of the season then.

But yeah, the Ardennes are really important. This races has given me confidence. Already after last year’s performances I knew I could be in the front. I am definitely coming out of his race in better shape than I was last year, as I was a bit of a mess after my crash last year in this race. Hopefully I will just stay healthy in the next couple of weeks and be able to get some real quality, specific training, and should be in really good shape for the three Ardennes races.

VN: If you do well there you will move further up the WorldTour. Is that potentially a goal for you this year?

DM: Ah, I don’t think the WorldTour classification is ever really a goal. It is more something that you go for at the end of the year. You just try to well in each race and do your best and be consistent over the year. If you are consistently good, the classification comes on its own.

Obviously the team has been incredible. This result is great for the team, it gives us a bit of the boost and puts us where we belong at the top of the sport.

VN: Do you need another couple of years to have the same consistency in the Tour? Is it putting too much on yourself to say it should be this year that you have the consistency that you shown in Catalunya?

DM: The last couple of years I have shown a gradual progression. I rode well in the Vuelta a couple of years ago. Three week races are certainly not out of capabilities but for the moment, I am going to enjoy this win. The Tour is the Tour but obviously you need a lot of luck as well. Last year I was hampered by getting sick in the Tour and my crash just beforehand as well. I wasn’t in top form in the race. For the future, it is definitely a goal but for now I will just take it one race at a time.

I want to have an easy week…we have had a really hard couple of weeks with Tirreno and straight into this. It has been fourteen days racing in the space of nineteen or twenty days. It has been a testing little period, so now it is time to recover and really focus on the three Ardennes races.

VN: Finally, you tweeted to Irish rider Ronan McLaughlin yesterday that you might be in the Irish bar tonight in Girona – is that on?

DM:
I think we will make a point of going. It is practically the local meeting point for the cyclists. I really felt that sense of community in the peloton this week, there are a lot of guys congratulating me.

It is really nice to have such an English speaking peloton now. A lot of them live in Girona, so I am sure there will be a fair crowd…
 

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