Eighth in Saturday's Giro di Lombardia marked a fine end of season for Irishman Daniel Martin, who was also second overall in this year's Volta a Catalunya, third in the Tour Méditerranéen and fifth in the GP Ouest-France.
The second-year professional is regarded as a talented stage race rider but the weekend result underlines that he also has a future in Classic races. "It just confirms what happened at Plouay, that I can race over that distance," Martin told Cyclingnews.
"Obviously there was a stronger field at Lombardy. I raced really aggressively in the event too, which made me happy."
After an early, long-distance break involving his first cousin Nicolas Roche (Ag2r La Mondiale) was brought back, Martin then went on the attack with Johnny Hoogerland and Matteo Carrara (both Vacansoleil), Mauro Santambrogio (Lampre), Dries Devenyns (Quick Step) and Gustav Larsson (Saxo Bank). They struck out on the Ghisallo climb and remained clear until just before the final ascent.
Martin undoubtedly used energy in the move, but played down the suggestion that he might have fared significantly better had he stayed put with the favourites
"I don't think I would ever have been able to go with Philippe [Gilbert] on the last climb," the 23-year-old explained. "Those last two climbs are pretty short so they are not quite my scene, but I thought I'd go for a longer one...
"If I could have got to the bottom of the last climb with a bit of an advantage, that would have been good. I knew it was going to split up behind, so maybe they would start looking at each other and perhaps I would be able to win the race," he added.
"I am really happy with how it played out. I got back on the last descent. I kind of messed up the sprint a bit because I didn't know what it was like. I've never done the race before and I didn't know it was a downhill tailwind sprint," continued Martin.
"It was super fast and I left it a bit late to start my sprint. But it was a good experience and I am happy. It is also good for the team to get another top 10 in a monument after Ryder [Hesjedal] got up there in Liège."
Martin recently broke team-mate Christian Vande Velde's unofficial record on the Rocacorba climb in Girona. He is encouraged by that, the Lombardia result and the fact that he is finishing his racing year feeling fresh. He said that this will set him up for a good off-season as his morale is high and because he isn't burned out.
Martin will next head to the Giro d'Italia presentation on Saturday and then attend the Braveheart dinner in Scotland on October 31st. He plans to spend much of the winter at his base in Girona.