The Cannondale-Garmin team remains winless after Tirreno-Adriatico and Paris-Nice, but Irishman Daniel Martin thinks the work done in the races will help them as they head into the Volta a Catalunya on the team's home turf next week. The 2013 winner of the race is aiming for an overall podium finish for himself or teammate Andre Cardoso, but knows it will be a fight every day.
"We have a really strong team going to Catalunya," Martin told Cyclingnews as he cooled down from Tirreno-Adriatico's San Benedetto del Tronto time trial on Tuesday. "We're going for a team result and one of us on the podium at least with me or Andre. It's a stellar field there, maybe even stronger than here - it's everyone here and from Paris-Nice together. It's going to be a great race."
Cannondale-Garmin is based in Girona, and will be racing their local roads for much of the week, but Martin isn't sure how much of an advantage that will be. "We know a lot of the roads, but it's a difference race this year. There isn't a 16km mountain top finish, there are a lot of shorter climbs and it's aggressive racing every day. Every day is an opportunity to gain or lose time. Every day you'll have to be switched on. I'm looking forward to it."
The current team formed out of a merger between the Italian Cannondale team and Garmin-Sharp after the end of the 2014 season, and getting all of the riders integrated into one cohesive unit has taken some time. Their only results so far have been two third places - Nathan Haas in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and Davide Formolo in the Mallorca Challenge - but Martin thinks the results will start coming.
"We seem to have stayed healthy, and we have a lot of new arrivals in the team. You have to learn how to work with each other, you can only do that at races. It's been a good week."
Martin seemed pleased with his personal performance in Tirreno-Adriatico. Although he came home in 25th place overall and suffered on the Terminillo stage, losing 2:34 to Nairo Quintana, he said it was good for his first stage race of the season.
"Training was going well, but doing four hours at 50kph every day is a little different. I think you forget how different racing is from training. For me personally - obviously we didn't come away with any results, but we came away with a lot more fitness and I think for Catalunya next week I'm in a good position.
"I don't expect to come into effectively the first race of the year and try to get results - I always want to do something, but you have to be realistic. Catalunya and then the Ardennes are a goal, and they're still five weeks away.
"This is a really heavy block of racing. It's time to recover and fine tune."