Dan Martin struggled to contain his enthusiasm at the unveiling of the 2017 Tour de France route in Paris, with several mountain finishes and a limited number of time trial kilometres, well suited to his climbing skillset. Next season he will target the Spring Classics and the Tour with a determination to succeed in both April and July.
The Irishman finished ninth in this year's Tour de France in his first title at the yellow jersey. That outing showcased the best of Martin in the mountains and but for being too aggressive on occasions, he may have finished higher.
"It's always hard to tell from a first impression but I think it's going to be a really close race," he told Cyclingnews in Paris.
"Especially with that last time trial. There's not that many chances to attack but it's going to be quite an aggressive race because everyone is going to be scared of the last time trial. With this course you need to be aggressive."
The race begins with a 13-kilometre individual test in Dusseldorf, while a 23-kilometre time trial on the penultimate stage completes the 2017 route's quota of racing against the clock. Having the second time trial so late in the race, according to Martin, is a bonus for him and the rest of the climbers who will all be looking to limit their losses.
"The lack of TT kilometres makes it different. Having it at the end of the race means that it will come down to legs and not TT ability. By stage 20 everyone will be so tired that it will equalise everyone. Two years ago we saw some really strange results in the time trial so for me it's better at the end and it's also quite short. It definitely means that as a climber, there's less chance of losing a lot of time.
"It's not so much that the route suits me, more the confidence that I've drawn from last year. I definitely feel that next year could be a turning point in my career. We'll see how it goes. I got so much confidence from how I raced the Tour this year, I learnt a lot, and how to race the Tour. I'm exited already."
Martin's new found ambition of riding for GC at the Tour de France dovetailed with his Ardennes this year. He finished third in La Fleche Wallonne but could only make 47th in Liege-Bastogne-Liege. That said, he added that the Classics would remain his focal point until his Tour de France preparations stepped up.
"The Classics are the first part of the season but seeing that presentation, I've got my appetite for the Tour. We'll go there with ambitions but the Classics are in April and there's a long time between the Classics and the Tour.
"Whether my ability in the Classics will suffer a bit because of my improved climbing in the mountains, we'll have to see. Maybe I'm losing that youthful punch in my legs but I love racing and I'm not going to change or just focus on July."
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