Dan Martin's Ardennes aspirations took a knock on Sunday when he pulled out of Amstel Gold Race due to a lingering knee injury and the symptoms of returning from training at altitude. According to the Garmin-Sharp rider, he has been managing an injured right knee since the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya at the end of March.
Martin, the defending champion in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, came into the Ardennes opener in high spirits. Although he had not taken a win this season, a strong base of racing and a stint at altitude had seen him talk up his chances of success in the trio of races.
Pulling out of Amstel was never part of the plan but the Irishman believes that it was a necessary step with Flèche-Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège on the horizon, and the Giro d'Italia well under a month away.
"Today didn't go to plan but my knee was a bit sore," he told Cyclingnews. "I'm not too worried and it has been getting better and better each day. It's more of a precautionary thing as there's still a bit of a niggle.
"I didn't want to risk the Giro or Flèche and Liège. We'll see the physio tonight and see what happens but I'm not worried about participating on Wednesday and I think I'm in really good condition. I just need to get my leg working properly. You can't pedal with one leg.
"I wasn't feeling good but that's from coming down from altitude. I've not done that before and so I don't know how long my body takes to adapt. I've been down for five days now and by Wednesday I should be feeling great. I'm still feeling a bit lethargic but I'm not worried at all. It was very much a precautionary thing."
Assuming Martin finds his feet with any issues over altitude, he and the Garmin medical staff must look to solve the knee injury, which according to the rider, has been troubling him since Cataluyna. Although he remains optimistic that he will be 100 per cent ready for his next race.
"It's just a little bit of pain and it's been a niggle for the last couple of weeks," he said. "My foot got a little bit locked somehow during Catalunya when it got really cold, I irritated my ankle a little bit and one thing has led to another. It's been different every day and I've run out of days to get better. We've got the best staff in the world looking after us and I've not missed a day of training. I think tomorrow or by Tuesday it will be perfect."