Dan Martin: The Tour de France starts today

Cannondale-Garmin rider looking to strike on the Mur de Huy

Dan Martin's Tour de France began with a steady ride in the Utrecht time trial on Saturday but the Irishman's focus is already been dialled in on the road race stages and especially stage 3, which finishes atop the Mur de Huy in Belgium.

It's a climb that Martin – and his Classics rivals – know well from La Fleche Wallonne and after crashing out of the Spring event in April, Martin is determined to showcase his class on the grandest stage of all.

"I went into Fleche as a favourite but crashed out. I'm not in the running for the yellow jersey after the time trial so I can purely go for the stage now. The Mur will sort the rest out," Martin told Cyclingnews.

Martin finished 95th in the 13.8km test, 1:17 down on stage winner and former teammate Rohan Dennis but the former Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Il Lombardia winner is taking each stage as it comes, well aware that this year's Tour de France can twist, turn and even prematurely end without a moment's hesitation.

"Obviously Monday's stage to the Mur is the day that stands out for me at the moment but we still have to get through Sunday's stage," he said.

"It's the old cliché but you really have to take it day-by-day. I can't start thinking about Monday because I could end up in a ditch first. We have the best team possible for the flat stages in order to protect us. This group has been together since the Dauphiné and every day we're gelling more and more. I'm confident that they'll get us to mountains in one piece and still in contention. That's when the GC race starts proper."

Cannondale-Garmin came into this race with Martin, Andrew Talansky and Ryder Hesjedal as their three protected leaders but the team were keen to stress that every rider on the squad would be given their opportunity to shine.

Their three main cards – Talansky especially – provided a subdued performance on Saturday but Martin believes that by sharing the pressure between so many riders the team can work to their strengths and reap rewards on the long road to Paris.

"We've spread the pressure and we could have three of us riding at the front in the mountains. It also keeps other team's guessing. We don't know who is strongest so other teams don't stand a chance. I count Ryder and Andrew as friends and that helps take out any issues and we all want to do the best we can for the team."

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