Tony Martin has enjoyed many of the major victories a pro cyclist can target - multiple world titles, stage wins and a stint in the yellow jersey at the Tour de France, and the overall win in Paris-Nice. For 2016, the German is looking to take on a new challenge and fill in some gaps in his palmares when he targets the cobbled Classics - the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
"I wanted to try some new things, so that's why I talked with the team at the end of last season and agreed to go for the Belgian classics and semi-classics," Martin said. "I will mix the regular races I usually do with the one-day races, which means I'll line-up for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Dwars door Vlaanderen, and if everything will work well I will try to be part of the team that will go in Gent-Wevelgem, Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix in the following months."
Martin is realistic, knowing that it is unlikely that he will battle for the podium in his first outing, but he wants to see how the races might suit him. "It would be great to be useful to the team in those races that are really important for us, as we are a team with Belgian roots. This spring will be a test and if the signals will be good, then I'd like to continue on this road. But first I need to gain some experience, so that's why I'm downplaying any expectations," Martin said.
The Etixx-Quickstep has only raced one semi-classic in his career, the Dwars door Vlaanderen in 2008, but he showed that he can handle the pavé when he won the cobbled stage of the Tour de France to Cambrai last year. The win propelled him into the race lead, but two days later he crashed in the run-in to Le Havre, fractured his collarbone, and was forced to abandon the race.
"My main goal was to take a stage and the yellow jersey in the Tour de France. I reached my goal, and that was brilliant. On the other hand, I didn't win as much as I expected in the spring. The condition was always good, but I missed some luck. Then, as I was approaching the last part of the season, I had my mind on the Richmond World Championships, but did not mange to win the rainbow jersey, and that was a huge disappointment."