EF Education First extend with Martinez

Recent Paris-Nice stage winner Dani Martinez has signed a three-year contract extension with EF Education First, taking the 22-year-old Colombian time trial champion though the 2022 season.

"I have really big goals, and I only want to keep discovering the potential I have," Martínez said in a statement the team released with the contract announcement. "The environment in this team is the best place for me to grow."

Martínez started at the Pro Continental level in 2015 with Team Colombia, then moved to the Italian squad Wilier Triestina for two years before joining Jonathan Vaughters' Slipstream programme last season. He quickly proved his worth with fifth at the Colombia Oro y Paz – the Tour Colombia 2.1's former name – and then seventh at the Volta a Catalunya.

He followed those results with 12th at the Tour de Romandie and third at the Tour of California behind compatriot Egan Bernal (Team Sky) and now-teammate Tejay van Garderen. Martinez started his first Tour de France in support of Rigoberto Uran, but when Uran dropped out of the race he went on to finish 36th.

Martinez was third this year in Colombia, and he scored the biggest win of his career earlier this month at Paris-Nice, taking the stage 7 win at the top of Col de Turini.

"Dani is someone that really, really, really wants to be a cyclist," said sport director Juanma Garate. "He wants to finish his career without any doubts about where he could arrive. That means that he is willing to make every sacrifice needed to do this job at 100 per cent.

"He's young but surprisingly with very clear ideas for his age," Garate said. "I can tell you that the first time that I did an interview with him, 15 months ago, about his goals, I was super surprised with his answers. He's very, very ambitious, but, trust me, this kid is the chosen one to be able to fulfill his dreams."

Martinez's win at the Colombian time trial championships in February is evidence of the work he's willing to put in to reach his goals, which include winning the Tour de France, as he told Cyclingnews during the Colombian race. Vaughters said Martinez's emerging talent in the time trial will make him a GC threat in the future.

"He's a gifted climber — one of, say, 20 very talented climbers in the peloton. But it's his blossoming ability in the time trial that makes Dani so exciting," Vaughters said. "He's made huge improvements in the TT. He's a climber whose time trial is now a strength, not a liability. He’s worked hard on his end there, and I’m also proud of the advancements the team has made on that front, too. We're doing great work together."

EF Education First say Martínez's spring race program will likely include Itzulia Basque Country [formerly Vuelta País Vasco], the Ardennes Classics and Tour de Romandie. He’s also expected to start his second Tour de France in July.

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