As Daniel Martin emerged from the Garmin-Transitions team bus after his Critérium International time trial effort, he was beaming as brightly as the Corsican sun.
As well he might too. Aside from the warm spring weather, his team-mate David Millar had just set the fastest time of the day, which would be enough for the stage victory, and Martin himself professed to feeling strong for the first time this season.
“I didn’t train for ten days after Paris-Nice – Contador said it was the same for him as well. Every one has been KO’ed after that race, it was so hard,” he said.
Problems with allergies have hampered his early season too. “I’ve been suffering with my hay fever a lot. It’s like you can’t go with that top-end bit – I didn’t have enough on to attack on Saturday’s last climb, I was just a diesel,” he said, referring to Saturday’s finish on the Col de l’Ospedale, where he sacrificed his own chances to help Millar, who went on to finish fifth overall.
“I was in the front group, saw that David had been gapped a bit with a kilometre to go, and went back to help him; we actually closed quite a gap. That’s what it’s all about – helping each other,” Martin explained.
After finishing fourteenth overall in Corsica, Birmingham-born Martin is now aiming for the Tour of the Basque Country, which starts on Monday, and the Ardennes Classics. “The form’s definitely coming, hopefully the hay fever will calm down a bit.”
The 23-year-old climber is angling for a big result before his scheduled first Tour de France ride. “I want to prove myself between now and then, I’m aiming to be there in July for Christian [Vande Velde].”