Daniel Martin Interview: Motivated for the Tour of Lombardy
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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Daniel Martin Interview: Motivated for the Tour of Lombardy

by Shane Stokes at 7:32 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Fall Classics, Giro di Lombardia
 
Irishman riding strongly, will be amongst race favourites for end of season Classic

Dan MartinTaking a fine second place last weekend in the Giro dell’Emilia showed two things to Ireland’s Daniel Martin. The first was that he was in superb form, training well during a recent break from racing. The second was the fact that had he ridden a little more tactically, he could well have won.

Martin led up the final climb, driving the pace for the final two kilometres of the race and leaving some very good climbers in his wake. Last year’s winner Robert Gesink (Rabobank) bided his time, though, sitting on and then sprinting past Martin very close to the line.

Netting a fourth season win would have been nice, of course, but the Garmin Transitions rider’s main goal of the end of the season takes place on Saturday. Emilia was a leg-loosener and morale-booster for the Giro di Lombardia, as is today’s Giro del Piemonte.

Martin has moved up a level this season, netting three important wins in August. He took a stage and the overall victory in the ProTour-ranked Tour of Poland, then proved that wasn’t a fluke when he won the prestigious Tre Valli Varisine on August 17th. The results showed he had become a rider capable of winning at the top level, and it took a degree of confidence to pass up the chance to head to the Vuelta a España and see how he could do there.

Instead, Martin decided to miss that race plus the world championships in order to be ready for the Tour of Lombardy. He was eighth there last year, and knows that he could do even better this time. He’s stronger, he’s more confident, and the route is also tougher than before. He and his team will hope that these three factors put him right in the centre of the fight for victory in two days time.

The 24 year old spoke to VeloNation yesterday, giving his thoughts on the Emilia performance, his expectations for Lombardy and also revealing that he will shortly undergo an operation which should help him become more consistent in his racing.

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VeloNation: First off, Dan, well done on your ride last weekend. Did you expect to go so well?

Dan Martin: Actually, it kind of came as a bit of a surprise. I knew I had pretty good legs in training. I have been working hard, everything has gone to plan…I have stayed healthy, I haven’t got sick. I have felt very fresh mentally and physically as well, in a really happy state of mind because everything has been going well.

So going into Saturday I was super-relaxed. It was more a case of just heading into it and seeing how things worked out…really, to blow away the cobwebs as I haven’t done much racing lately. I definitely felt it at the start of the race. The first 50 kilometres was a bit of a shock to the system because of the high speeds we were doing. Towards the end, though, when we started hitting the climbs, I felt better and better.

The last climb hurt really bad, but it was a strange sensation because the legs just wouldn’t stop. I could just keep going and keep going.

Dan MartinVN: You finished second, and were close to the winner Robert Gesink….

DM: Yes…I think I paid for a lack of confidence in my form and how strong I was by not being tactically well-played. Looking back, I probably could have won the race, but I was maybe riding for a good result rather than a win. If I had risked the podium place, maybe it would have worked.

In the end I just lost concentration coming into the last 300 metres. Not knowing the finish was a factor, as well…. Robert jumped with maybe 300 metres to go. In retrospect, now that I have done the finish, I know that the guy who is leading with 200 metres to go basically wins the race, as there is no coming back.

As soon as he attacked, I knew I had lost the race…I was like, ‘dammit.’ I was coming back to him, but it was never going to happen.

VN: You have a chance to use that confidence on Saturday in the Giro di Lombardia. Jonathan Vaughters talked to us about that recently, saying that the new parcours could suit you well…

DM: Yes. I went to look at the course yesterday and it is going to be really hard. You have the Ghisallo and the Sormano [the Colma di Sormano – ed.], back to back climbs….They really do suit a climber. But then, after the top of the Sormano, there is still 40 kilometres to the finish. When we did it on Tuesday, there was a headwind. From the bottom of the descent, there was a 20 kilometre headwind to Como. So that is going to be really difficult for a small group. I think it is possible that there is going to be a regrouping before the last climb of San Fermo di Battaglia.

We’ll have to said and see what happens. Obviously it is the first time everybody has raced on this parcours, so it is a new tactical part of the race for everybody. The climbs are always different in racing as to training. The descent is technical as well, so that is definitely going to play a part. We just have to hope for good weather, as if the descents are wet, that could change the race as well.

Anyway, it is exciting using a new course like that.

VN: Having checked out the route, can you talk us through how it is different to last year?

DM: Well, after the top of the Ghisallo, you have four or five kilometres of descending, then we turn right and there is a ten kilometre climb. Then it descends down to the lake. You turn left at the lake and you go on to San Fermo di Battaglia. Basically, what they have done is they have cut away the Civiglio climb, with the famous technical descent, and put in a ten kilometre climb. It is quite drastically different.

Obviously hitting San Fermo di Battaglia with an extra 20 kilometres in the legs is also going to play a part. It is going to be really hard.

VN: If you are really going to go for a big result, do you need to do what Philippe Gilbert did last year, going clear on the final climb? Or are you quick enough to be confidence with a small sprint?

DM: Well, at the end of a really hard race I’m okay…I am not going to get last in a group sprint, but obviously it is a mental thing, it is a strength thing. You need to have to legs for a sprint like that.

But I am not going to think too much about it…I am just going to play it by ear and see what happens at the moment. I am not going to think about tactics, where I am going to attack or whatever. You have got to get to that place in the race first, in the front group, then you can figure it out.

It is always very much an instinct thing with me. I don’t really plan what I am going to do, it just happens. Sometimes I pay for it, other times it goes my way.

VN: After Saturday, you can look towards travelling to Japan and doing the Japan Cup there. Is that your last race of the season?

DM: Yes, it is the only other race I can actually do. I am racing as long as possible this year.

VN: That is a good sign…if you still have the morale and the energy at this point of the season, that is pretty good…

DM: Yes, I am still keen to race. I had a really good break after the Giro. I haven’t done a whole lot of racing since then, but the form is good. As long as my condition is good, I am going to want to race. Continuing to race makes the winter shorter as well, that is the best bit…less winter training to do!

VN: A good aspect of being motivated at this point of the year is that probably half the peloton is going to be just looking forward to the end of the season. So that is an advantage in itself as well…

DM: Yes, it is always a nice atmosphere…that is why I love these races and being on this team here, there has been a great atmosphere this week. It is like end of term… That said, everybody is super-motivated as I obviously showed that we might have a chance on Saturday.

There is a relaxed atmosphere, but it is also one with confidence as well as we know we have someone strong on the team. That is a really nice feeling. Hopefully that is going to be repaid. We had a fun time this week, it has been good.

VN: There was some bad news for the rider who won the Giro dell’Emilia, Robert Gesink. His father crashed on the bike and has been hospitalised, causing Robert to pull out of Lombardy..

DM: Yes, I think that happened after the race on Sunday. It is really bad, because he had trained so hard for Lombardia. But family comes first..it is only a bike race this Saturday. That is the way I always go into everything, saying that it is only a bike race, and so there is not as much pressure.

VN: Finally, you saw a specialist during the Tour of Britain about the allergies you were suffering at certain points of the season. What’s happening as a result of that consulation

DM: Well, we are pretty on top of things for next year. The problem is not really my sinuses, actually – I have got an extra bone in my nose which basically blocks it. I am going to have that removed on the third of November. It’s not a big operation, it’s very quick and easy. Then I will be able to breathe through my nose…it might make a difference, I think!

That is pretty exciting. After that, we have got a couple of other things to pursue and hopefully I can have this form all year round.

 

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