By Shane Stokes
Motivated by his tenth place overall in the Volta a Portugal, Irish Champion Daniel Martin will line out in the Tour of Ireland today hoping for a strong performance. The route of the race is flatter than the 22 year-old specialist climber would like, but he is nevertheless motivated to ride well in the five day, 2.1-ranked event.
"I was surprised how Portugal went, because I was going to use it as a training race for here," he said at the pre-race press conference yesterday. "I was a bit sick, and couldn't train for a week, so I felt a bit flat. But I ended up in the best young rider's jersey and so I had to race then.
"It was an unreal race – it just got faster and faster and faster every day. I was a bit cooked by the end of each stage but it worked out well. I am a bit tired from that now, so we will have to see how it goes this week."
Despite his fatigue, he's glad to have ridden hard in the race due to the result. "I am really happy the way Portugal went, I was absolutely flying," he continued. "It was frustrating to lose the jersey by ten seconds, but I am generally really happy. It was a really good experience, it was my first long stage race being twelve days. I'd never done anything that long before. I was on the podium every day, spraying champagne on the girls. It was nice."
First-year pro Martin made a huge impression when he won the Route du Sud in June, then followed that up with a dominant display in the national road race championships. He's clearly a very big talent; he's prefer tougher climbs in the Tour of Ireland, but he and his Garmin Chipotle squad are here determined to leave a big impression.
"We have got a nice strong team. If I am feeling good, I have got a really strong team to help me do something in this race. The race will determine what happens [as regards the team leaders]. I have already ridden for guys like David Millar in races this year.
"They are normal guys, they do their job on the team, the same as anybody does it on the team. We all give 100 percent. Whoever feels best on the team will be supported. ... We are here to win the race or at least a stage, so hopefully we will make that happen."
Some of the top squads in world cycling are taking part, with quadruple Tour de France stage winner Mark Cavendish leading the charge of the Columbia squad. Martin and Millar are part of a strong Garmin Chipotle selection, while Tinkoff Credit Systems, CSF Group Navigare, Rabobank and Team Type 1 are some of the strong overseas teams.
Irish hopes lie with Martin, the national team selection led by David McCann and Paul Griffin, the An Post M. Donnelly Grant Thornton Sean Kelly team of FBD Insurance Rás winner Stephen Gallagher and national road race silver medallist Paídi O'Brien, plus the Pezula Racing squad of Olympian David O'Loughlin and Ciarán Power.
The race begins today with a 192-kilometre stage from Dublin to Waterford, taking in the climbs of Djouce up to Roundwood and Mount Leinster, and then finishing in the Quays.
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