Dan Martin: Now I have the needed belief

After a consistent 2012 in which he claimed top tens in Fleche Wallone and Liege-Bastogne-Liege and finished his debut Tour de France, Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) is confident he can bring his results up to another level in 2013. At 26, and with a number of Garmin’s team leaders approaching the end their careers, Martin will be handed more responsibility in 2013 as he takes aim on another strong showing in the Ardennes.

Martin has been tipped for success ever since his days at VC La Pomme when he impressed as a talented climber. A move to Garmin in 2008 followed and the Irish climber has progressed ever since. However due to injuries, illness and an element of fragility, Martin has often been erratic in seasons past. Scintillating form at the Tour of Poland in 2010 and 2011, a stage win in the Vuelta in 2011 and impressive shows at the Tour of Beijing and Classics last spring, for example, have been punctuated with dips in form. This difference, according to Martin, is that he now has the "belief" of a team leader.

“I’m learning all the time in terms of a team leadership role. The last couple of years I’ve had results of a team leader at times but maybe my maturity levels and way I conduct myself with my teammates hasn’t been there,” he told Cyclingnews.

“That’s experience though and you get that from being with the older guys and seeing how they lead the team. That’s something I benefited from a lot more than in previous years because I had a lot more days of racing with the experienced guys. They showed me how to talk to my teammates in races, and I think I grew up a lot.”

“I showed a lot more consistency last year though. In the past, my results have been erratic but last year, even when I was bad, I was there or thereabouts. Physically and psychologically I’ve progressed as a rider. It’s mainly a level of belief that I was lacking before. I’m not afraid of people. There’s respect there but not fear.”

Martin began his 2013 campaign at the Tour of Med. Despite picking up a head cold the Irishman was set to finish the race until his bike - along with all his teammates – was stolen before the fifth stage. It forced the entire team out of the race. Despite the set back Martin has recovered from the cold at his base in Spain, and has pinpointed Tirreno as his first serious objective of the year. The field in the Italian stage race is easily to best it’s been in years, and the event will be an important marker towards the Ardennes Classics.

“This year we’ve decided to change it up a bit and give me a chance of riding Tirrreno,” Martin told Cyclingnews.

“It’s always been a race that I’ve wanted to do and it’s a beautiful course will all the best riders in the world going there this year. It was my initial aim for the start of the year but with the sickness I’m not sure how it’s going to go. There’s not much pressure though and the Ardennes is still the main aim for the first part of the year.”

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