Dan Martin: I want the Tour de France to start tomorrow

Despite a late mechanical in the stage 4 time trial at the Criterium du Dauphine, Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors) remains upbeat and ready for the mountain stages of this year's race.

The Irish Quick-Step Floors rider placed 26th in the individual test on stage 4, crossing the line 1:08 down on stage winner and race favourite, Richie Porte (BMC). Yet Martin was satisfied with his legs and carries that form and confidence into the three final stages, all of which are in the mountains.

"The time trial was maybe a more important test for me than stage 6 and I was really happy with how it went. I should have been better in the end of the time trial but it wasn't to be," he told Cyclingnews.

Friday's sixth stage features the highly anticipated climb of Mont du Chat, which will feature in this year's Tour de France. As the first major mountain test of this year's Dauphine it is set to cause splits in the field but the ascent is one that should suit Martin, with the 15 per cent pitches offering him multiple opportunities to attack before the sketchy descent to the finish in La Motte-Servolex.

"I had a few problems in the last 10 kilometres of the TT but it's going to be good to see the climb on stage 6 ahead of the Tour. I'm interested in seeing the last downhill. I hear it's technical and fast. The climb looks really hard."

After finishing third overall in the Dauphine last year, and enjoying a consistently strong campaign this time around, much is expected of Martin in this race.

The final three stages are all in the mountains with short, sharp parcours peppered with testing climbs. That said, the former Slipstream rider isn't putting undue pressure on his own shoulders. He admitted before this race began that he perhaps peaked too soon in 2016 and ran out of gas in the third week of the Tour. This time around he is hoping to save his best legs for July.

"To be honest I've put no pressure on myself this week. I want to the Tour to start tomorrow and mentally ready for it. I'm just taking each day as it comes here and whatever the result it's not really going to affect my focus."

Stage 7 is set to finish atop Alpe d'Huez, while the final day should provide a dramatic end to the race on Plateau de Solaison. Both stages offer Martin chances to shine, despite his main focus on the Tour, and while few riders will have knowledge of the side of Alpe d'Huez that will be used on Saturday, Martin has climbed it before. As a 13-year-old it was one of the first climbs he did with his father.

"I don't really remember it too well, just that it was super hot and steep but back then everything seems steep. I thought my garden was steep."

"I think the last stage here is going to be beautiful. It's short but there's mountains all day and it could be really explosive. I think it's going to be really important and there's going to be so big time gaps. As for stage 6, I think the finishline is effectively at the top of the climb. It's going to be a really aggressive stage, while the Alpe d'Huez stage is a bit more of an unknown because I don't really think that anyone knows that side of the climb."

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