Dan Martin may be the only card Garmin-Sharp have left to play in the general classification contest at the Tour de France but the Irishman says that securing a high overall finish in Paris is not an objective in itself for the time being.
Martin currently lies 2:28 down in 8th place overall after his stylish stage victory at Bagnères-de-Bigorre on Sunday, but – to paraphrase his fellow countryman, the former Leeds United footballer Johnny Giles – he is still taking each day on its merits.
“I’m not thinking about GC, I’m just taking it day by day,” Martin told Cyclingnews. “I’m treating it as if I’ve got twelve one-day races left and if the GC happens, it happens. It’s not what I came here for and there’s so much that can happen in these races. The main thing is to try and stay safe and get to the mountains, and then we’ll try and get another stage, and then who knows what will happen.”
Buoyed by his victory over the Hourquette d’Ancizan on Sunday, Martin made light of the lengthy transfer the peloton undertook as they made the long trek north to Brittany from the Pyrenees ahead of the subsequent rest day. Conditions were admittedly not quite those faced by Albert Londres’ Forçats de la Route in 1924, but the tests of endurance in this 100th edition of the Tour certainly do not stop when the riders cross the line.
“The travel was hard because we didn’t get to the hotel until 10.15 at night and it was 45 degrees on the airplane so it was kind of hero to zero stuff,” Martin said. “We managed to get a few beers in the airport though before the flight so the atmosphere is incredible in the team. It was such good fun, just laughing and joking all the time. We didn’t really feel any pressure coming but it’s always nice to win a stage of the biggest race of the year. It was a good day.”
As he warmed down on the rollers outside his team bus in Saint-Malo on Tuesday afternoon, Martin was still in relaxed form in spite of what had been a sometimes white knuckle ride through the crosswinds at the race traversed Brittany. “Nobody tried to split it but it was just really hard,” he said.
Wednesday’s stage 11 time trial to Mont-Saint-Michel is a major rendezvous for many at the 2013 Tour, but for Martin, it is simply another day to be negotiated before the race returns to more mountainous terrain. No more and no less.
“I haven’t even looked at it, I don’t even know where it is. I’m not bullshitting you,” he laughed. “I’m honestly taking this day by day. I think that’s why I’m staying so relaxed. There’s no pressure and no stress.”
A carefree Martin enters the time trial with no specific expectations, then, although he did acknowledge that he ought to fare better than he did in the time trial that followed immediately after his previous Grand Tour stage victory, at La Covatilla in the 2011 Vuelta a España. Hampered by a back injury, Martin lost over six minutes in Salamanca, time which proved fatal to any prospects of a top ten finish overall.
“That Vuelta time trial wasn’t because it was the day after my stage win, it was that my back was out of place and I had that pain during the time trial, so that’s why that performance was so bad,” Martin said. “If I can do better than that one here, it would be a good day.”