By Bjorn Haake in Vogtsburg
German Paul Martens of the Dutch Rabobank team has had a good start to his pro career. Last year he narrowly missed out on his first pro win when he finished second in the Ster Elektrotoer. He was riding for Skil-Shimano then and beaten by Rabobank's Sebastian Langeveld. Rabobank saw the potential of Martens and signed him for 2008.
He confirmed his talents with a second place in this year's Ster Elektrotoer stage to Valkenburg, ending on the famous Cauberg.
Martens knows the Dutch and Belgian roads very well. After all, he lives in Lanaken, Belgium, which is only a few kilometres from Maastricht, Netherlands. He enjoys training in the terrain in that area. "It is ideal. I can go to Germany and ride in the Eifel. It is not like the Black Forest, but if you ride for five to six hours constantly up and down, then you get some good vertical metres. I can also go to the Ardennes or the Limburger area, which is where the Amstel Gold race takes place."
Martens raced this week's Regio Tour as preparation for the Deutschland Tour and wasn't sure yet what the latter would bring. "I don't have much experience with the high mountains and there is always one such stage." This year it is right at the beginning. After a short prologue, stage 1 goes from Kitzbühel to Hochfügen, ending at 1436 metres of altitude.
Martens left the Regio Tour on a high note. "I felt really good during the race. I will now take some rest, then there is always another boost." He did the race with the Deutschland Tour in mind, but emphasised that he wanted a good result. "At the smaller races I am always highly motivated, as I can race for myself."
A race where he would have to work for the team would be the World Championships in Varese in September. He is really hoping to be selected this time around. "I would be really disappointed if I wouldn't be selected again."