Etixx QuickStep have confirmed that Daniel Martin has joined the Belgian team for the next two seasons. The Irish rider will leave Cannondale Garmin at the end of this year having raced with the team since 2008.
"I'm really excited to join the team, which has been a point of reference in cycling for years," Martin said. "I hope to be able to take the next step in my career with Etixx-Quick-Step. I would like to improve even more and establish consistency with my performances. I think I am entering an important moment of my career at my age. I feel I am stronger than ever, mentally and physically,” Martin said in a press release.
Cyclingnews broke the story that Martin would leave Cannondale several weeks ago with Etixx boss Patrick Lefevere also confirming that he was close to signing the Irish rider, a former winner of Liege- Bastogne-Liege and the Tour of Lombardy.
"The arrival of Dan Martin is an important moment for the team," Lefevere announced today.
Martin’s arrival will help to offset the departures of current world champion Michał Kwiatkowski and Rigoberto Uran who are both set to leave Etixx QuickStep. Dan Martin can compete in both the one-day races and Grand Tours – the 29-year-old has finished in the top ten at the Vuelta a Espana and won stages in both the Spanish Grand Tour and the Tour de France.
"He's a guy who was able in the past to win one-day races, but also stage races,” Lefevere added.
“He has also been a GC contender at Grand Tours during his career. He is now 29-years-old, so he is at the peak of his career. He had an unlucky 2015 early season, but it is clear in his most recent performances, even at La Vuelta, that he has a lot of spirit. For the team this is also a key addition because Martin can be a presence in the Ardennes Classics, alongside young French rider Julian Alaphilippe.
“His contributions can be two-fold for Julian. Julian can learn a lot from a seasoned veteran like him. At the same time, Martin is a guy who has proven he can win at the Ardennes. So the peloton respects his presence as a contender, and this alleviates some pressure for Julian. This can be a bit of an Ardennes 'dynamic duo.' Martin is a complete rider who is able to perform well in stage races, one-day-races, and grand tours, and we are excited to see what he can do with an Etixx - Quick-Step jersey on his back for the next two years."
Martin’s race programme for 2016 has yet to be completely defined but he will target the Ardennes Classics once more before focusing on a Grand Tour.
“Of course my season will be built around the Ardennes Classics, where I can join forces with Alaphilippe. I hope to teach him some things and help him to evolve as a rider, while playing protagonist when I have the opportunity. I also would like to do well in the stage races, and maybe try again once in a grand tour for a good classification. I think I have potential to be a factor in the grand tours, whether it be stage hunting or in the overall classification. I am motivated to add to my top career performances, while proudly wearing the team colours of Etixx - Quick-Step for the next two years.”