Dan Martin: “Now I know I can win in the Ardennes”

Please tell us why you chosed Ireland as your nation?

That’s a really tough question to give reasons for. My mother is irish and I don’t know why but I always felt more irish then british, even though I grew up in england and represented britain in 2 world championships as a junior, ireland always felt more like home. For example I always supported the opposition team in football against england. Argentina in 98 for example haha. The irish public are very supportive. Maybe the best fans in the world, and really give support in the good times and the bad times. Its great to have this feeling of sharing my success with so many people and it really means a lot to me too.
 
 You won in Catalunya a few days ago…was that a main goal for you?
Cataluna is where I live so I’m always excited to ride the race, and after my success there the last few years, we know I can do well there. But starting the season, it was not even on my race programme! After tour med I got sick and had to take 1 week off the bike. Tirreno Adriatico was normally a goal but because I was sick my form was not fantastic starting that race. We saw I improved a lot and by the last stage I was in the strongest riders, just I had bad luck with a mechanical at the most important moment in the final. So then we decided to do catalunya as we could see I had the condition to be in the front. So yes, when I started the first stage, it was a goal to do well. But 1 week before I was not even thinking about it!
 
 can you tell us your upcoming calendar and objetives?can you win the World Tour clasification?
 Originally my goals for the first part of the year were the ardennes classics. Last year I was good there but not great condition after a bad crash in catalunya which stopped me training 100%, and I still got some good results. This year my preparation has gone perfectly so I’m quite excited to see what I can do. I really love these races and the 1 days style suits me well. For the protour classification, I don’t think anybody decides it as a goal. I start the year aiming to be good in every race I start. That’s the perfect scenario, and if that is the case I will be near the top of the classification at the end of the year. Its a poiints system that suits my characteristics very well so who knows. But for sure, when I start lombardia, I will not be riding conservatively to score points. The aim is to do as well as possible. The points we look at afterwards.
 
You did great in 2012 Liege and Fleche….are you going for the win this year?
I think I answered this already abit, but for sure. Its a dream to win 1 of these big classics, and I am going into the ardennes week with a lot more belief this year, as well as being 1 year stronger. I feel a lot better then the same time last year and my team now is 100% committed to me. Last year, I was a rider who has the capacity to do well in these races, but I had never actually got any results. This year I am a rider who has done well before and that changes how people view you as a rider. Before we thought I could win, now we know. But like all 1 day races, you need good luck, and to have super legs on that 1 day. The stars need to align, and I think 1 year it will happen. Maybe its this year, I just know I’ve had a perfect run up to the classics and couldn’t have done more in training.
 
what kind of rider you´re?you won in mountains stages, were 13 in general clasification of Vuelta 2011…very regular…i think…
 The 2011 vuelta was a great race for me but 13th on the classification does not tell the story. I got a 2minute time penalty for something we never actually had an explaination from the commisaires and I was sick the morning of the long TT and lost 6minutes to the best riders! I’m not saying I would have done an amazing TT but take away 2 minutes of that time loss and I would have been fighting for 5th or 6th in the classification so yes, I believe I can do very well in grandtours. But for me now, I don’t want to categorise myself. I just love racing my bike and am lucky to be talented at a number of different types of racing. I love the 1 day races and stage races equally. 2 very different types of racing but I think its possible to be successful at both. I can climb quite well and have some explosiveness. Just the TT needs work but I’m improving very fast at that.
 
wich are your weakness?and your stongest points?till where can you go?wich are your limits?
 I think I just answered that. But to where can I go? I don’t want to set limits because its impossible to know. I think I’m very fortunate to arrived in cycling in this team and this time as its possible for a rider like me to compete clean. 15years ago, to do what I was doing wouldn’t have been possible. I’m still developing as a rider and see that every year I’m getting stronger. Maybe that will stop soon, maybe it won’t. I just want to keep enjoying racing, enjoying riding my bike and as long as that is the case, success will hopefully follow.
 
who´s your role model as a cyclist?who´s the best now?
 I’ve never had role models or heros. Even when I was growing up, I admire how certain riders race, but I never wanted to look up to guys as I always believed I would be 1 of thise guys. And to be racing against somebody you idolise would be intimidating. I think it helped growing up in my family. With stephen roche as my uncle, professional cyclists were just normal guys to me. Perhaps my dad is who I admire, because even after 40years riding, he still loves riding his bike, rain or sun he’ll be out there just for the love of riding, its a sense of enjoyment of cycling that I have now and something I truly do fear losing. Hopefully that will never happen.
 
how´s britsh cycling health?can you name some young riders to keep on eye on them?
 I don’t want to put any pressure on any young guys :) but cycling in ireland has really taken off. From middle aged guys riding to work to kids starting out racing. Its really amazing how many people love riding bikes now, and its something I’m proud to support and hopefully inspire people to take up the sport, although with the weather at home, I’m surprised anybody wants to go out. I live in spain for a reason! I support a charity called cycle4life.ie and will be doing a fundraising bike ride on the 4th may. Its great to see so many people out on bikes in 1 day. For a small population we are definately creating a good number of quality cyclists.
 
Are you the kind of rider that surprise the favourites when have´got the chance?if they don´t care about you …can you make a big surprise and win a grand tour?In Catalunya Rodrguez couldn´t beat you….
Like I said, every year I’m improving and so who knows where that will take me. My endurance is definately stronger now then before. I did tirreno and catalunya at a high level back to back this year, something that would have been difficult in the past. I think the element of surprise is maybe getting less now as guys are becoming used to me being in the top of the results. But ryder hesjedal winning the giro last year showed me that anything is possible and yeah, I think my level at the grand tours is still a big unknown, so yeah. Maybe I can take advantage of that situation. I’m definately not a favourite for the big races yet so maybe I can use that :)
 
1Would you like to come to Tour de San Luis?do you know something about Argentina?
 I’ve heard a lot of good things about the tour de san luis and I think Garmin Sharp as a team are very interested in coming in 2014. To be honest I don’t know a lot about argentina, but I know quite well JJ and sebastien Haedo as they lived in girona and they told me somethings. I’ve never been to south america so for sure its on my list to visit sometime!
 
There a lot of young rider sin the team…growing fast…what do you think about them?
This year has been very much a transition year, and I think we will see a similar path for next year. We have a lot of guys who are near the end of their careers and a lot of young guys with not many riders in the middle. I’ve now gone from being 1 of the youngest to have 10 team mates younger then me! Its a strange feeling, especially going to some races and being 1 of the most experienced guys at 26. But its also a great atmosphere, back to how we were in 2008. Younger guys have an enthusiasm for racing, and obviously having guys of the same age to me means we have a lot more in common, plus they’re not all married so socially makes it more fun haha. We have a lot of very talented riders and with me an talansky, 2 bright hopes for stage races in the future the future looks good for Garmin Sharp.

 

Pablo Martín Palermo

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