Dan Martin: I've cut out all the time-wasting

Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) may be having a few sleepless nights as a result of being a new dad, but the Irishman says fatherhood has sharpened him up for his bike racing, too.

Martin became the father of twins last autumn, and he told Cyclingnews at the start of stage 3 of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana that his life has changed dramatically.

"It's a big life-change, an amazing experience. It has made me stronger and more focussed.

"I've just had to cut out all of the time-wasting in my life. Now it's just bike and kids; there’s no time for anything else anymore."

The new UAE Tour is a major goal for Martin and his team, and so he needed to build his early-season form to prepare for that target held between February 25 and March 2. Martin will try and a top result for the team at their home race.

"Obviously, it's to try and get the best result for the team, which is to try and win the race," Martin said. "I'm feeling a little bit ahead of where I'd normally be, but that's been the aim because the UAE Tour is so important for the team.

"I've come into the season with good condition, we could see that in the TT the other day." Martin placed 10th in the opening time trial at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana.

"I've worked really hard over the winter, and I haven't even done most of the time trial work yet, I'll go into the wind tunnel next month. It shows we've made a lot of progress over the winter and it's really exciting."

Martin was already nearing the top of his game in Mallorca, where he placed 13th at the Trofeo Andratx - Lloseta. "I had a little bit of a play there, but the weather wasn't great, and I didn't want to take any risks. But the training has gone perfectly, and the team's got a new coach over the winter, and some new training staff, too."

The trainer, Iñigo San Millan, is new to UAE Team Emirates, but he is a familiar figure for Martin. "I worked with him in Garmin actually, so it's kind of like I've gone full circle."

After the UAE Tour, Martin will head back to Europe for the Volta a Catalunya, the Vuelta al País Vasco and the Ardennes Classics. After that, he'll begin working towards the Tour de France.

Martin said that he has a soft spot for Volta a Catalunya, a race which he knows very well and which takes place in a part of the world where he and his family have set down some roots.

This year's edition will be his eleventh participation and as he pointed out, "It's got one of the strongest fields of the whole year." At the moment, apart from Martin, Chris Froome (Team Sky), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team), Enric Mas (Deceuninck-QuickStep), brothers Simon and Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) are all slated to ride, as well as Martin's teammate Fabio Aru.

First, though, comes the racing in February, where Martin, currently lying seventh overall in the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana says, "The form's come together really easily, I've not done a huge amount of intensity, the idea was to use here for that. So obviously, it's the first races, the first summit finish, the first big efforts - they are always a bit of an unknown."

But after Saturday's ascent to the Santa Lucia monastery in Alcossebre, likely to prove decisive in the overall outcome of the Valenciana, Martin will certainly have a clearer idea of how things are going. But so far, so good.

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