Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) put in a more than respectable ride to finish eighth in the uphill time trial at the Tour de Romandie on Friday. The result catapulted him up the overall standing to eighth, 1:42 down on race leader Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo), and with a morale-boosting performance behind him the Irishman is focused on Saturday’s last decisive stage for GC.
Martin briefly held the hot seat during Friday’s 9.9km test to Villars, but was eventually pushed down the standings, with Team Sky’s Egan Bernal winning the stage and moving into second on GC. Martin paced his effort up the climb, and although he finished 1:28 behind the young Colombian, he was more than content with his ride. It’s been a tough few weeks for the Irishman, who raced all three races in the Ardennes, before arriving in Switzerland.
“It’s funny, and I didn’t want to tempt fate, because my first big result as a rider U23 was in a 10km uphill time trial in the Alps. That was definitely going through my mind this morning, but so too was just how tired I was from Liege. I had a really bad day on Thursday, but I woke up better today. If someone beats my time, that’s okay but I paced it really well and that’s all you can do,” Martin told Cyclingnews after briefly leading the stage standings.
“I’m happy. I came here knowing that it would be hard after the Classics, but with this stage being the deciding one in the general classification, it was a real opportunity to come here and get a result. When the route was announced we decided to come and do it, because of this time trial.”
As has been documented in virtually every single interview and article on Martin since the turn of the year, he moved teams from Quick-Step Floors to UAE Team Emirates over the winter. The transition has taken time, as most do, and Martin has been beset with bad luck and illness at times. He has not yet reached his best condition or turned in a race-winning performance, but the former Liege-Bastogne-Liege winner is remaining patient.
“Form is a bit unknown. It shows up but I’ve been a bit unfortunate this year. I’m also learning to work with these guys. I had a really good day at Liege but like at the final day at Catalunya, I was caught out by bad luck. Paris-Nice was the same. I was feeling good and then got sick. The most important thing is that we’re learning all the time. We’re building towards July, and ironing out mistakes is a two-way thing. I knew that it was going to be a big change coming to this team but we’re getting there. I feel good here, and hopefully we can try and improve our GC.”
The Tour de Romandie concludes on Sunday with a sprint-friendly stage into Geneva. However, stage 4, which starts and finishes in Sion is packed with five categorized climbs. Although the final ascent comes 30km from the finish, it’s the last opportunity for a GC shake up. Martin’s teammate, Rui Costa, goes into the stage in fifth place in GC, 1:17 down on Roglic.