Irishman Dan Martin talks to Cycling Weekly about his solid start with new team Etixx-QuickStep and his expectations at the Tour of Oman this week
Dan Martin is matter of fact about his start with new team Etixx-QuickStep. The set-up of the Belgian outfit, he says, is the same as the variations of the Garmin/Cannondale/Slipstream outfit he spent eight years racing for.
“A cycling team is a cycling team,” Martin remarks. “There are mechanics, soigneurs and directors. There is not really differences. For me, I just needed a change.”
That said, the move has clearly been of benefit to the 29-year-old who marked his first victory on his debut with the squad at the Tour of Valenciana earlier this month following a winless 2015.
Martin is currently racing at the Tour of Oman he is not necessarily confident rather “comfortable” at following his performance in Spain.
“It was really nice just to get the first win and get that duck off my back straight away,” he says. “But it’s hard to be confident when you’ve got so many good bike riders here.”
Teammate Bob Jungels was leading the Middle East race before the start of stage two after winning the opener on Tuesday that saw 16 riders, including Martin, contest the finish. The latter was presented as an overall contender pre-race though is shy to cast an eye past the queen stage to Green Mountain later this week.
“I haven’t really done that much intensity in my training so I think for Green Mountain I might be a bit on the limit but the other stages for sure I’ve got a chance,” he says.
“It’s my first Tour of Oman so I have no expectations, I have no idea where I am going or how the race is or anything. It’s actually really refreshing coming to a new race. It’s been a long time since I did a completely new race.
“I got the flight here and had no idea what it looked like or anything so it’s really exciting to discover something new, especially a race with so many stages that on paper suit me.
“I’m not in top condition now but I showed [in Valenciana] that even when I’m not 100 per cent I can still, if I choose the right tactics at the right race, be successful.”
For all the stated similarity Martin will take a different road to the Ardennes Classics with Etixx-QuickStep. Normally, the Irishman would kick off a season campaign in March but his schedule this year has had a shake-up that’s already paid dividends.
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“We had a common goal and it turns out their idea of my programme was the same as mine,” Martin says.
“The last three years Tirreno was basically my first race and I was always a little bit on the ropes there, so it’s nice to get a few races in the legs and then hopefully get to Tirreno in good condition.”
For now though, Martin is focused on success in Oman at any given stage.
“It’s a big race the Tour of Oman,” he says. “There are no small races in cycling now so it’s a case of a win is a win. I think analysing a victory is kind of silly. Some guys aim for the Tour de France, it doesn’t mean they can’t win here and it doesn’t mean this is no less of a victory.”