Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) is currently enjoying remarkable late-season form and success at the Vuelta a España but the Irishman is also looking ahead to next season when he will become teammates with Chris Froome. Martin believes that the addition of Froome to the roster will help the team take steps to the next level.
“I can't wait to actually race on the same team with [Chris Froome]," Martin said in a rest-day press conference on Monday. "He's a real presence and will inspire everybody.
"The team is going to step up another level next year. It's been on such a steep learning curve so far, from a small Continental team to now a WorldTour team. Now, with signing the best rider of this generation, I feel like it's really exciting to be a part of that."
Cyclingnews reported in July that Froome would leave his long-time team Ineos Grenadiers (formerly Team Sky) and move to Israel Start-Up Nation in 2021. He had been part of the British team since their inception in 2010 and has had much success winning the Tour de France on four occasions, the Giro d’Italia and twice the Vuelta a España.
Froome is currently competing at the Vuelta a España, which is his final race with Ineos Grenadiers, where he is currently placed 98th and more than an hour behind his teammate and overall race leader Richard Carapaz.
Froome lost significant time in the opening mountainous stages and stated that he is focused on supporting Carapaz, while also reconnecting with Grand Tour stage racing after taking time away due to the serious injuries he sustained in a crash at the Critérium du Dauphiné last June.
"We've talked every day this week in the peloton,' Martin said of Froome. "The fact that he is even on the bike this year after his crash is amazing. I think he's going to progress so much in this race.”
Martin is currently sitting in third overall just 20 seconds behind Carapaz and two seconds away from runner-up Hugh Carthy (EF Pro Cycling). This comes after a series of strong performances in the opening stages of the race where he was third in stage 1 atop Arrate, third in stage 2 at Lekunberri, and he then won stage 3 at La Laguna Negra de Vinuesa.
“It takes a lot out of you when you race in those conditions and then we had a long transfer," Martin said. "Of course today we're feeling a little bit tired, and it's been a very tough week. Mentally, I'm feeling really good, although the legs are a little bit tired but I'm sure I'll be fighting fit again tomorrow.”
Asked if he would attempt another stage win during the Vuelta a España, Martin said that it depended on the types of opportunities that present themselves over the next 12 days of racing.
“It depends on the opportunities, but I think a breakaway will decide a lot of the stages ahead," Martin said. "But who knows? If I have good legs and the opportunity comes then of course I'll go for a stage, but the focus is on the GC and we'll see how far we can go with that.”
The Vuelta a España continues on Tuesday with stage 7 from Vitoria-Gasteiz to Villanueva de Valdegovia, which include double climbs up the 7.8km Puerto de Orduña.
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