Most riders considered the trip to the Caribbean for the Amstel Curacao Race as a holiday but Germany’s Tony Martin (HTC-Columbia) went out training every morning as he prepares for 2011, when he will target the overall classification at the Tour de France for the first time in his career.
Now 25, Martin finished 137th this year after preferring to drop out of overall contention and target the time trials. It paid off because he was second in both time trials behind Fabian Cancellara. He also finished third behind Cancellara in the world time trial championships but won the time trial stage at the Amgen Tour of California and at the Tour de Suisse.
He has already proved his stage race potential by winning the Eneco Tour and by taking sixth in a tough Tour de Suisse won by Fränk Schleck. Martin admits he was tired when he started the Tour de France this year but plans to peak in July next year.
"I know now what I want and how to work for it so I can be at my best in July," he told L’Equipe.
Martin will begin 2011 with a lighter racing programme, starting at the Challenge Mallorca (6-9 February), followed by the Tour of Algarve (16-20 February).
Germany is still recovering from the doping scandals that have hit cycling but Martin is seen as the first potential great German stage race rider since the disgraced Jan Ullrich.
Martin revealed that he now lives just five kilometres from Ullrich in Switzerland, close to the German border but admits he has never met him.
“Our paths have never crossed,” he said, almost afraid to mention Ullrich’s name. “When I started my career, he had stopped. But everyone tells me he's a good guy…”