Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) typically finds himself competing for top-10 honours in Grand Tours but the Irishman has taken a completely different position in this year’s Tour de France, with his focus entirely driven towards winning stages.
After a week of racing, Martin finds himself well out of contention for GC honours, sitting 60th overall and over 20 minutes off the yellow jersey. After a taxing Giro d’Italia in May – in which he finished 10th and won a stage to Sega di Ala – the 34-year-old has taken a much different approach to the Tour.
"It’s been a weird Tour and obviously I’ve not really done much yet," he told the press, including Cyclingnews, at the start of stage 7.
"I’ve just been riding to the finish every day. That was always part of the plan and I needed to get my legs going again after the Giro. At Mûr de Bretagne [stage 2] I had a look but didn’t have good legs and then the main aim has been to get to stage 8.
"Our aim has been to win a stage, and you have to figure out how best to win a stage, and that’s about saving as much energy and staying out of trouble in the first week. So far, so good. It’s gone to plan but it’s been a bit boring so far. It’s a new experience, me riding the Tour like this. It’s strange not having the mental concentration of the GC. That’s why it’s been a weird race."
The opening week of this year’s Tour has been an extremely fraught affair, with countless crashes. Martin’s teammate for the GC, Michael Woods, lost time in a crash in the opening days, while Chris Froome also hit the deck on stage 1.
Martin has survived the chaos and is just looking ahead to the back-to-back stages in the Alps this weekend, where he has a much better chance of slipping into a break and picking up a third possible Tour de France stage of his career.
The veteran climber also gave his take on the GC battle and how riders taking the challenge to race favourite Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) could have an impact on his own chances of success from the breaks.
"It was quite nice not being involved in all the stress. I think that people underestimate how much energy you save by not being in that fight for position every day in the front. Hopefully, it pays off," he said.
"My Tour starts tomorrow and probably finishes on stage 18. It’s going to be a strange Tour in terms of breakaways going to the finish. Everyone knows that they need to take time of Tadej and there are a lot of strong teams with Ineos and Jumbo. They’ve got numbers in the GC fight and they need to take a lot of time.
"Everyone sees UAE as the weaker force in the GC fight, so it’s going to be an interesting battle because I think Tadej is the strongest but then you have a team that can potentially not control the race. It will be interesting to see how far out people attack from."
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