Dan Martin will lead UAE Team Emirates at the Critérium du Dauphiné June 9-16 in what is considered a dress rehearsal for the Tour de France in July. The Irishman has twice placed on the podium in the French WorldTour event but is a dark horse this year, having not raced since Liège-Bastogne-Liège in April.
"Dauphiné is a race I always enjoy," Martin said in a team press release. "Racing on the French roads against a high-level competition is the perfect preparation for the Tour de France."
Ahead of the Ardennes Classics, Martin revealed that he had been suffering from an illness since the Vuelta al País Vasco in early April. He started Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège but didn’t finish either race.
He has had previous success at the Critérium du Dauphiné, finishing third in 2016 behind overall winner Chris Froome and runner-up Romain Bardet, and he was third in 2017 behind Jakob Fuglsang and Richie Porte.
"Training has gone well, and I feel good although I'm not sure on my expectations having not races since Liege-Bastogne-Liege, so it is always an unknown how the first race back will go."
Neil Stephens and Marco Marzano will direct the team, which also includes Vegard Stake Laengen, Cristian Muñoz, Simone Petilli, Edward Ravasi, Rory Sutherland and Oliviero Troia.
The Critérium du Dauphiné includes two hilly stages, two stages suitable for sprinters, an individual time trial of 26.1km and the final two days in the high mountains, finishing up to Pipay and Champéry.
This year's race will include a strong lineup, including four-time Tour de France winner Froome (Team Ineos), Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale), Porte (Trek-Segafredo) and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep), who, like Martin, are all making their final preparations for the Tour de France.
"The aim is to get a good week's racing in the legs and to continue building towards July," Martin said. "I’ve performed well in the last few years at the race, so I am just aiming to enjoy the race and hope the legs are there to be aggressive at some point in the week."