After undergoing two nasal operations over winter to try to improve his reactions to allergies, Dan Martin is looking forward the coming season and a spring programme that centres on the Ardennes Classics. Speaking from the Garmin-Cervélo training camp at Calpe, the Irish climber revealed his plans to Cyclingnews and how the Ardennes Classics will be central to his 2011 season.
"I know I'm doing the Tour Mediterranean and the Vuelta Murcia, then races are really up in the air - whichever races I'll be doing, I'll be going to help the team. I'll definitely be going to the País Vasco and the Ardennes, they're my first objectives on the calendar."
It will only be after the Ardennes Classics that Martin will start to think about the rest of the year, taking into account his form and health - and his performance in relation to the rest of the team. After that, he'll think about the possibilities of riding the Grand Tours.
"I think I've got to keep the options open. Whether I do the Giro or not, it's not going to affect my Spring programme anyway - maybe I'll do Romandie instead of the Giro, if I am going to the Tour or the Vuelta - but until the Ardennes are out of the way, I don't really want to think about it.
"The Giro is a super-hard parcours, it suits me really well, but my allergies might never be right for me to have it as an objective. Obviously this year we'll see what goes on, we'll talk to the medical staff as much as the coaches and the directeurs sportifs. If they believe that my allergies are still a problem, there's no point in me going."
Although he finished the 2010 Giro with two top-ten stage placings, he's still frustrated that he wasn't riding his best.
"It's one of the things I hate most about racing. There's not really much point going to a race if you're not at a hundred percent, or close to a hundred percent - that was the case last year at the Giro, and it felt like a waste of three weeks. Even though I learnt a lot about myself, and psychologically and physically I progressed, it was very frustrating."
Given that his allergies don't usually start to affect him until the spring, it's too early to tell how successful the procedures have been. But the 24-year old remains positive and confident about his future Grand Tour capabilities.
"I'm excited to try and hopefully do a Grand Tour this year when I can focus on it, and maybe see a bit of the course and do a bit of recon, and actually make it an objective rather than just going there to help the team.
"I could do three - three every year!' he joked.
"There's no reason why I couldn't do three, but physically I'm not sure that would be very healthy! This is a really strong team now, we're going to go to every race to try to perform, so if the team think I can perform over two Grand Tours in a year, I'll give it a go, but it's a bit of a daunting prospect to spend forty-four days on the road in two different bike races! But we'll see, I'm still young to be trying stuff like that. But I'm always going to have allergies, it just depends how much they affect me."
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