Dan Martin got married at the weekend but the Irish Grand Tour and hilly Classics rider is already looking forward to the 2017 season and especially the Tour de France, suggesting he has now ‘learnt how to race the Tour' in a video interview.
Martin joined Etixx-QuickStep for the 2016 season after nine years with Jonathan Vaughters' Slipstream set-up. He won a stage at the Vuelta a Catalunya, finishing third overall, was third overall in the Criterium du Dauphine and ninth in the Tour de France, 7:04 down on winner Chris Froome (Team Sky) but only three minutes from a place on the podium, and only six seconds from seventh place. He was third in Fleche Wallonne but suffered in the cold conditions at Liege-Bastogne-Liege and finished 47th, 1:57 down on the winner Wout Poels (Team Sky).
"It's been an incredible season for me but I've definitely seen a lot of room for improvement. Just because of that, it's been a learning year, so its very exciting to go into next year and spend the winter analysing what was good, what was bad and what we can change to get even better results," Martin said in a video interview released by his team.
Now 30, Martin has often endured a difficult time at the Tour de France. He was seventh in the 2014 Vuelta a Espana and won a stage in the 2013 Tour de France. He finally secured a top ten finish this season and is convinced his naturally aggressive approach is the best way for him to face the sport's biggest race.
"Six seconds off seventh in the Tour, that was a bit too close," he said. "There's a a bit of regret in the back of my mind but at the same time I cant change it. I know I race hard and race aggressively. I think some people noticed my presence in the race than some of the guys who finished in front of me. This is also an entertainment business. I'd rather be seen at the front, being aggressive, attacking and trying to win, than follow behind and get fifth.
"It was the first time I'd really thought about the GC in the Tour and I've now learnt how to race the Tour. I've got a list in my head and I can see areas where I can make a big improvement next year. That comes down tactics as well. Now we can go back and work on my time trial bike, work on my physiology.
"I don't know if it will lead to better results but I'm one that wants to tick every box and really get the best out of myself. It's exciting to see where that leads."