Dan Martin heads to Vuelta to lead Garmin's challenge

Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) will line up for the Vuelta a Espana later this month as his team’s GC contender, but the Irishman isn’t taking any of that pressure to heart, stating that he’ll take it day-by-day in the race.

The Irishman, who has picked up a number of high profile wins this season will also lead his country at the Worlds next month before building up for the Giro d’Italia next spring. The 2014 edition of the race will start in Belfast and is only the second time a Grand Tour has visited Martin’s home shores.

“I’ll be there for GC,” he told Cyclingnews from his base in Girona, Spain.

“I’ve only done it once and my allergies were bad there, but since my treatment it doesn’t appear to affect me anymore. I guess we’ll find out but I’ll go in with the aim of riding GC but where I differ from most GC guys is that I will take it day-by-day. I prefer to see it as 21 one-day races rather than counting beans and trying to save as much energy,” he said.

The start in Belfast is a major coup for cycling in Ireland and comes just months before the Tour de France’s start in the United Kingdom.

“Cycling is Ireland is just getting bigger and bigger. Especially with what happened at the Tour. It’s getting a lot of press, and Irish sport is suffering at the moment, so it’s going to be an interesting May. I just hope the weather is okay.”

The trip to Belfast is still a long way off however. After recovering from the Tour de France, Martin remained in Spain, training on the roads near his home. He skipped the majority of the post-Tour criteriums as he recovered from the illness that affected the last week of his Tour but is now building up for an assault on the Vuelta.

It’s a race where he’s had success in the past with a win to La Covatilla and 13th overall in 2011. However this year’s race would mark the first time Martin has started two Grand Tours in one season.

“The Vuelta is going to be a bit of a learning experience. It took me about 10 days to get healthy after the Tour this year, and I didn’t have any energy. I think it will do me good though, having that enforced rest.”

“I’ve just started training hard again this week but I’m in a very relaxed place right now. I’ve never done two Grand Tours in a season but it might make a big difference for me next season. It’s going to be an experience, psychologically more than anything.”

“Again I’ll just take it day by day. There are 12 uphill finishes in the race so there are lots of opportunities. I’ll see what happens in the overall and as long as you don’t lose a ridiculous amount of time in the first few days there are massive gains to be made in the last week. You just have to keep your options open. We’ll have a team there to support my GC ambitions but I won't be going into it super stressed. I know I’m strong at the Vuelta and I’ve done well there before.”

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