Dan Martin: The Tour de France is where it's at

Etixx-QuickStep leader all in for Lombardia

The 2017 Tour de France route has yet to be announced but Dan Martin is already contemplating another bid at the overall after his best ever performance during this year's campaign.

The Irishman finished ninth this season, just a handful off seconds off seventh, and has pinpointed areas in which he can improve for next year.

"I'm looking forward to going there next year with perhaps even more focus on GC than this year," the 30-year-old told Cyclingnews.

"We need to wait and see the courses but the Tour is where it's at."

Martin has raced all three Grand Tour in his career but moved to Etixx-QuickStep at the start of the year in order to have a clean run at July. He started the Tour strongly and was aggressive in the mountains on a regular basis. However, at times he paid for his antics, and conceded time after going into the red. Although he had his best ever Tour de France form this year, Martin believes that there's more to come as he refines the relationship he has with his Belgian squad.

"I think form wise I was really good so it's just the fine tuning that I need to do," he said at the recent Tour of Britain.

"Part of that comes down to me finding out what this team is all about and how it works. So things like working with Specialized on my time trial position and spending more time on my time trial bike. That's where I had the big loses this year, because on the climbs I was there. I don't really think that this year's course really suited me as well as some of the previous courses. If I get a course that suits me then who knows what can happen. I've shown that I can be there on the climbs and last the pace over three weeks.”

If Martin has learnt one thing from this year's Tour experience it is that racing GC at the Tour is a completely different proposition to say the Vuelta a Espana, where he finished 7th overall in 2014.

"I think be less aggressive," he said when asked what the big lesson was from this year's Tour.

"Some might question that but I learnt that the Tour is different to a race like the Vuelta. It definitely cost me on a few occasions. It cost me a bit of time. I was six seconds off seventh but it's so close. I don't think we ever expected it to be that close and that's partly why I was so aggressive. You can never call that and I learnt how to ride GC at the Tour. At the Vuelta you can be aggressive and get away with it but at the Tour everyone is so on their 'A-game' that you can go into the red too much and pay for it."

Martin has enjoyed a successful debut season at Etixx-QuickStep with two wins, third in La Fleche Wallonne and the Criterium du Dauphine and his top ten at the Tour. It has, however, been two years since he last tasted success in a major one-day event. The all-rounder has a Liege Bastogne Liege and Giro di Lombardia in his already impressive palmares and the latter is the main focus for the remainder of the campaign.

"Lombardia is a race that's been good for me before. That's part of why I took break after Rio because last time I did the Tour I just kept training and kept going and just ran out of juice. I took a real break this time and I've used this race to get the legs going again for the big season finale. I hope it's a nice way to finish the year."

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