Daniel Martin doesn't expect a mystery allergy that affected him during the early part of this year to compromise preparations for his late-season goal, the Giro di Lombardia.
The Garmin-Transitions rider withdrew from the Tour of Britain prior to stage six in order to attend an appointment with an allergy specialist in London. He is hopeful pending test results will shed light on the complaint that has affected his ability to reach his maximum heart rate for a number of years during the European spring.
"It's been more pronounced this year. It's the period between mid-February and mid-May; I've never really been in top form in that period, even since I was a junior," Martin told Cyclingnews. "We believe it's an allergy, but we're just trying to discover exactly what it is.
"The opportunity for an appointment with one of London's top specialists came up. It just so happened to be a day during the Tour of Britain. It was a bit of bad timing, but I'd had a couple of hard days and really enjoyed the race to that point."
Martin has competed at the Giro di Lombardia in each of his first two years as a professional. He finished eighth at the event last season and is confident a lighter race load this year will see him arrive fresh for the final event on the ProTour calendar on October 16.
"Lombardia's definitely the objective. Although it's also a bit of an unknown because last year I came into it from the Vuelta [a España], so this year with so little racing in September in my legs it's going to be different," he continued.
"It's a race that I love and I'm super motivated to do well, maybe because I've had quite a light block of racing since the Giro, really. I haven't really raced a hell of a lot and I still feel fresh in my head to give it everything until right up until mid-October.
"It's a beautiful race so that helps as well, and it suits me down to the ground," he said. "If I can train as hard as the guys who did the Vuelta I should get there with a bit of form."
Confidence the key
In 2010 Martin has enjoyed his most successful season to date with a string of recent victories. Last month he recorded a stage win and the overall at the Tour of Poland, as well as victory at Italian one-day race Tre Valli Varesine. All of those results came after his allergy eased in June.
"The allergy disappearing was a big weight off my shoulders. Up until June my heart rate wouldn't go above 175, then suddenly it's going up into the 190s. You get those 15 beats back and it's great; that's the mystery we're trying to solve at the moment," Martin explained.
While the easing of his allergy was a decisive physical advantage, Martin is also a clearly more confident character than in seasons past. It's a fact not lost on the 24-year-old, who completed his second Grand Tour at the Giro d'Italia in May.
"I think the Giro definitely brought me on in leaps-and-bounds because it's such a difficult race. I came out of it exhausted. The team guided me in the recovery process and my coach, Adrie van Diemen, kept my head straight. For three weeks afterwards I basically just did recovery rides and chilled out," he said.
"It's having that little bit of confidence to not train and know that the work you've done in those three hard weeks of racing will soak in and make you stronger.
"I think I'm physically maturing now as well. Some of the guys have said I no longer look like a kid who's stolen a bike, I actually look like a pro cyclist. That's kinda funny, but I'm confident I'm going to get stronger every year.
"At the moment it seems I'm definitely getting better year-on-year. We've just got to hope that that process continues and we're going to do everything possible with my health to improve the early part of my season as well."
Martin will travel to Vancouver, Canada on Tuesday to train and attend the wedding of his Garmin-Transitions teammate, Christian Meier. He will return to racing in Italy at the Giro dell'Emilia on October 9, with the Giro del Piemonte on the Thursday before Lombardia. He will close his season at the Japan Cup on October 24.