Daniel Martin will head up the Irish team in the Under-23 road race on Friday, and the 21-year-old will start as one of the favourites this year. The Team Garmin-Chipotle professional has already made waves on the European circuit this year after he won the prestigious Route Du Sud stage race in France and then went on to become the Elite and Under-23 Irish road race champion.
His preparations for the World Championships were delayed, however, when he caught a virus and was forced to retire from the Tour of Ireland in August, but he bounced back to finish fourth overall in the Tour of Britain. A victory from Martin would be the first gold medal in the championships in ten years since Mark Scanlon won the junior gold medal in 1998.
"It has been a big step up in training and racing with the team this year and I took on a new coach as well," explained Martin. "I have been doing a lot more intensity training this year and it seems to be working very well. This is my fifth time riding at the World Championships and that has helped me to be pretty relaxed this time.
"I am treating it like a normal race. It is one of the hardest races of the year because everybody is so motivated for it. You have to fight all day and stay strong mentally and hopefully everything will go my way."
Martin finished 26th last year in the under 23 World Championships when he struggled on the last two laps in the Stuttgart race won by Slovakian rider Peter Velits. Martin's preparation for this year began back in July when he road the European Championships.
"We stayed down the road in Lake Maggiore and I did a couple of laps of the circuit and it seems tough and pretty good for me," continued Martin. "I am happy that there is no descent from the last climb to the finish. Though it can be difficult to compare riding in the peloton against when you are out training on your own. I had a few teammates who rode it in the Giro d'Italia and they said it is not too hard. It is going to be a waiting game. I have been used to riding in longer races between 190 – 200km races this year and I am hoping this will count for me on the last lap and the last climb."
The full U23 team is Daniel Martin (Gerona), Ronan McLauglin (Donegal) and Conor McConvey (Belfast)