Tipped before as a potential candidate for the best young rider award in the Tour de France, Garmin-Slipstream's Dan Martin has played down his chances of taking the Maillot Blanc. "I think it would be probably the hardest white jersey ever to win," he told Cyclingnews. "You have Andy Schleck, [Robert] Gesink, [Roman] Kreuziger...I think if you win the white jersey this year, you could possibly be on the Tour podium!
"Those guys have a few extra years pro and a few more kilometres in their legs than I do. I am just going to go into the race with a completely open mind and just see what happens...I'll enjoy it, have fun."
The Birmingham-born Irishman only turned pro last year and has yet to ride a Grand Tour, but his progress thus far has excited the American ProTour team. Two standout performances are his victory in last year's Route du Sud, and his second place overall behind Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) in the 2009 Volta a Catalunya. He was also second on the hardest mountain stage there.
However, although Garmin-Slipstream manager Jonathan Vaughters and teammate David Millar have been glowing in their praise of him as a possible future Grand Tour contender, Martin is keeping his feet firmly on the ground.
"The longest stage race I have done is 12 days, so we have got no idea how I am going to cope in that last week," he said. "I think we have to take it day by day and see what happens.
"It also all depends on how the race pans out with the team time trial and how well positioned Christian [Vande Velde] is after that first week of racing. It will either be full gas for him with the general, which is what we are all hoping for, or I might get a bit more freedom in the last week to maybe sniff out a stage win in the mountains."
He doesn't want to set his sights too high. "I think we can rule out the general classification...I am not going to even think about it. If it happens, it happens... it is my first year, my first Grand Tour, so I can't go into it thinking I am going to set the world alight."