Dan Martin Interview Part II: Taking the next step in 2010
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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Dan Martin Interview Part II: Taking the next step in 2010

by VeloNation Press at 9:13 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

Part 1 of the Interview

Talented young Irish climber Dan Martin is heading into his third pro season aiming to improve on very solid performances in 2008 and 2009. Providing all goes to plan and he is able to continue his natural progression, the 23 year old appears poised to land some big results in the months ahead.

Last year he was second in the Volta ao Catalunya, third in the Tour of the Mediterranean, fifth in the GP Ouest France and eighth in the Giro di Lombardia; factor in the expected improvement as a rider ages, plus the benefit of riding his first Grand Tour last autumn, and it is reasonable to think that some big wins are on the way.

Part I of this interview appeared on VeloNation yesterday and dealt with his 2009 experiences, as well as his off-season, his current form and his feelings about the current Garmin Transitions set-up. This concluding segment looks forward to the 2010 season, outlining his races and goals, his ambitions to ride his first Tour de France, his likely role there plus several other subjects, including his advice for young riders and those aspiring to turn professional.

So, without any further ado, here’s more from the rider team manager Jonathan Vaughters predicts is going to play a major part in cycling in the years ahead….

VeloNation: The start to your season is fast approaching – is your schedule fully laid out at this point?

Dan Martin: Not really, to be honest. It is a bit spur of the moment. I should be starting with the Tour of the Mediterranean [February 10 – 14] and the Tour du Haut Var.

In March, because the calendar is so congested now, we are still trying to decide which race to do. But I am going to sit down with the directors in the next couple of days and figure out whether it will be Paris-Nice or Murcia, Catalunya or Basque Country.

I think I will be doing Basque County, I am pretty sure on that one, as it is the best preparation for the Ardennes Classics. They are really the first main goal of my season, and we will see what happens after that.

Generally I will have a bit of time off in May, just to recuperate from the first part of the season, then I should do the Dauphiné and build up for the Tour.

VeloNation: So you will do the three Ardennes Classics, Amstel, Fleche and Liège?

Dan Martin: No, I am going to leave out Amstel this year. I’m pretty young and it is a ridiculously hard three days. I think that Flèche is the one that suits me the best, so I prefer to try to hit that one as fresh as possible. Only having two recovery days between a 260 kilometre Classic in Amstel, one of the hardest on the calendar – it is too much for myself.

It is a shame, the race really suits me and in the future I will definitely be doing it, but this year it is just one year too early.

VeloNation: Have you set a specific goal for yourself in Flèche and Liège?

Dan Martin: Well, those races are so unpredictable, anything can happen. I will go there with Ryder Hesjedal…we are going to have a strong team, Ryder got tenth in Liège last year. We are both very much capable of being there in the finish.

Fredrik Kessiakoff has just come into the team – I think the Classics really suit him. We are going to have a young guy who is going to come up in the team again, for sure…we have some good climbers in the team now. There’s going to be a surprise this year, whether it is guys who were pro last season, like Christian Meier, or from the new guys on the team. Michel Kreder is definitely one to look out for, and I think that Riccardo Van der Velde is going to be strong this year.

We have got a long, long list of young riders and somebody is going to break through this season. That is what is so exciting. I think we can go to every race with a number of guys who can get results, and that strength in depth is what is going to count.

VeloNation: Will your chances of being selected for the Tour depend on how you perform in the Dauphiné?

Dan Martin: Well, all I know is that I am on the long list for the Tour. It [the selection] is going to draw on the season as a whole, they’ll see how things progress. Obviously the Dauphiné will be a factor, but I don’t know when they are going to make the decision. It is more a case of hoping my knee, my health stays together this year!

We have got a really exciting sports science part to the team now. They are going to try to keep me on the straight and narrow and keep me healthy this year. Hopefully we can make the best of some good legs.

VeloNation: With Bradley Wiggins now gone to Team Sky, Christian [Vande Velde] is going to be the undisputed leader for the Tour. The team had a two-pronged approach last year, so it will change this time round…

Dan Martin: Yes, I think it makes it easier, to be honest. It would have been great to have Bradley in the team, but now with Christian we can go and focus on him and Tyler. Tyler for the sprints, and hopefully I will be there to help Christian in the mountains. It would be a really great experience for me to race with him. I hope I can help him out in the high mountains and learn off him. That is the important thing; to have a role model like Christian. He is a fantastic team leader and really bonds the riders together well.

I will be able to watch him up close and learn the trade, see him racing in a position that I will hopefully I will be filling in a few years. It will be brilliant.

VeloNation: You have plenty of time on your side; you can afford to spend a couple of years supporting someone else in the Tour, learning as you go along…

Dan Martin: Yes – at this point, it would be extremely naïve for me to go into the Tour de France with anything but open eyes. It is a massive media circus and with the amount of pressure involved, it is a totally different beast to any race I have done.

Psychologically, it is going to be tough enough, so I just have got to go in there totally relaxed and be ready to be there for Christian when he needs me.

VeloNation: If you go to the Tour, you will be there to support Christian. Is there room for any personal goals - would you like to have the chance to go for it on one stage?

Dan Martin: I wouldn’t even think about it. It would really be a day-by-day thing. Cycling is such an unpredictable sport, anything can happen and who knows what scenario could unfold. But I would be going there, purely 100% dedicated to someone I have got a lot of respect for. He has almost become a big brother, together with David [Millar]. I would be 100% behind Christian, I haven’t even considered anything else.

Obviously I have looked at the route, but it is purely as to how I can help him. To get him on the podium would just be like a personal victory anyway.

VeloNation: At this point of the season – and I know it is very early - there seems to be a fairly good chance that Philip Deignan and Nicolas Roche might also be in the Tour. Does having two other Irish riders in the peloton spur you on? In other words, do you motivate each other by what you are achieving?

Dan Martin: The thing is that they are not just Irish guys, are they? Philip is a really good friend of mine, and Nicolas is my cousin. It is a tightly-knit group. It is great to have each other in the races…it is not motivation, but it is just a friendly face in the peloton.

It is great to have that, and it is great for the sport in Ireland. Hopefully we can inspire some kids to get on bikes and grow the popularity of the sport.

I think we have got to make the most of having three guys riding the biggest bike races in the world, and climbing towards the highest echelons in the sport. There are not many countries like this and we are all really young, as well. We have got a lot of time to progress and get better. It is a good time.

And obviously we can look forward to going to the worlds together every year – it is good craic!

VeloNation: You are pro now, but a few years ago you were an up and coming rider, trying to make the breakthrough. What advice would you give young riders in the sport?

Dan Martin: Just don’t take it too seriously, have fun – enjoy riding your bike…that is the most important thing. What I have found with joining this team is that the more you do enjoy doing something, the better you get at it. Never be afraid to just enjoy it. You can’t say that enough.

Obviously, some days when it is p**sing down with rain and you don’t want to go out, we have to go out. As a kid, you don’t; don’t force yourself to do anything.

It is funny, though…we trained in the rain yesterday for four and a half hours and we got snowed on during one climb. It wasn’t raining for the whole spin, but we got really wet on the way back to the hotel.

It is like something sadistic…I started laughing to myself, and Christian was laughing as well. I don’t know what it is…that weather makes it more epic, and some of us can get a small bit of enjoyment in that.

It is all about fun, doing it with a smile on the face. It is really important to keep that in mind – don’t take it too seriously. It is only a sport, it is a hobby.

VeloNation: Your uncle Stephen Roche and father Neil were both pros. What is the best advice they gave you when you were coming up through the ranks?

Dan Martin: (thinks for a moment) I don’t know…I guess it was just little bits here and there. There is nothing that really stands out. Probably that enjoyment factor was very much a big thing that was emphasised. I was never forced to ride a bike; it was purely when I was ready and when I enjoyed it.

In fact, I started and then gave up again because I didn’t like it. There was never any pressure there, that was drilled into me my whole life.

VeloNation: When and why did you give up?

Dan Martin: Well, I first tried clipless pedals when I was 13 or 13 and half, I clipped in and toppled over. I didn’t even make it out of the back garden, and gave up for a year! I got back to it then.

That is a big part of it as well…I didn’t start properly until I was 15. It is a time factor as well, I am still very fresh.

That is why we need to try to get hold of the kids now, get them to enjoy it. They love it, but shouldn’t take it too seriously…when you get to this level, you do have to take it seriously then. But if you have already been doing it seriously for five or six years, it gets old very quickly.

VeloNation: You are known as a climber – what advice would you give people who want to improve in the mountains?

Dan Martin: Learn to pedal – that is the best thing. The bigger gear you use, the more stress you are putting on your muscles. The better you can pedal, the higher revs you can keep up – it is not ridiculous [revs], like Lance does, but you can probably take ten off what you ride on the flats and aim for that.

I would probably ride a climb at 90 rpm, but the normal person might be at 80. It is just a case of keeping the gear moving, because the more you stress your muscles, the quicker they are going to fatigue.

VeloNation: That’s probably especially relevant when you are doing three or four big climbs in a day…

Dan Martin: Yes. People are often shocked at the [small] gears that we use, but it is just that we are pedalling faster. It doesn’t matter if you have got a 27 or 28 on, it is all about how fast you pedal the bike. I mean, in the Vuelta we were using 27s regularly. 25s are on the bikes all the time.

People think that because we are going so fast up the climbs, that we must be using 17s, 18s, 19s. No – we are using 25s, we are just pedalling quick. That’s the key.

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