Dan Martin pessimistic about Liege-Bastogne-Liege chances after illness

After a tough Flèche Wallonne which saw him abandon the race, Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) had hoped that he might be able to turn things around in time for Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

But at the team presentation on Saturday afternoon, the Irish all-rounder recognised that things had scarcely improved, and he was decidedly downbeat about his chances of fighting for a second victory in La Doyenne.

Instead, Martin told reporters he hopes he can play a support role for riders like teammate Diego Ulissi, who finished third in Flèche Wallonne earlier this week.

Martin revealed that he had been sick since the Vuelta al País Vasco, and that despite a small improvement in his condition before Flèche Wallonne, he was still far from 100 per cent condition.

Asked if he was ready to go on Sunday – let alone go for a top performance – Martin answered with a categorical "No."

"I’ve got some kind of nasty bug after País Vasco, we don't know what it was but we thought it was a bad head cold and it ended up taking a lot out of me," he said. "On Tuesday I was starting to feel pretty good and then on Wednesday I was good at the start. But I didn’t have any power after that and it’s kind of put me back in my recovery as well.

"I’ve not been feeling too hot for the last few days, but every day I've been getting slowly better. That's why I'm still here, the team really believes in me and any chance of recovering in time, they want to give me a shot.

"I haven't been feeling too great today, but we'll see how I feel tomorrow morning and then we'll make the call."

Martin said he thinks the bug in itself has gone but that the after effects are still lingering. Considering how important a part of the calendar the Ardennes are to him, he felt very disappointed that he would likely not play a more significant role.

“Luckily we've got a very strong team here, Diego filled in very nicely on Wednesday and we’ve got an even better squad on paper for tomorrow. And that’s great to be a part of, and that’s also why I’m here, but I'm definitely not going to be in the final racing for victory.

"I know though, I've got an important part to play in trying to help the team get the best result possible."

As for the route itself and the changes, Martin argued that "It's definitely a different kind of finish and it’ll open up the race a bit. Obviously last year you saw more and more than everybody was waiting for the final climb.

"But this time it'll be a lot more aggressive, particularly with the harder middle part of the course. It'll be a real war of attrition."

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