Dan Martin looks ahead to the final Monument of the 2017 season, Saturday's Il Lombardia
The Irishman of Quick-Step Floors counts Il Lombardia as one of the trickiest races to get right, with a tough route and its position so late in the season when riders are inevitably battling fatigue. The signs were good after he placed 11th in Milano-Torino on Thursday.
“On paper you see riders who are really, really strong but they just don’t have the legs anymore,” Martin said in an interview for the Velon website.
“And October is unpredictable on an individual basis – you can feel good one day and terrible the next. The cycling season is getting longer and that fatigue from the whole season counts.”
Martin won Il Lombardia in 2014, and says that he benefitted from an enforced mid-season break that year after injury.
“The year I won Lombardia, I’d broken my collarbone in May and had two months off, so I had that freshness. A lot of people put it down to motivation but a lot of the time, the body says no. That’s just the way it goes.”
This season, Martin suffered from injury again after post-Tour de France scans revealed that he had fractured two vertebrae as a result of crashing on stage nine. Despite the injury, he carried on to the finish in Paris. He took time out after the Tour to recover, and says that he is very nearly back in top form.
Watch: Tour de France stage nine highlights
“The fracture is healed, it’s just the muscles have got a lot of memory of what happened,” said Martin.
“Obviously forcing them for two weeks [at the Tour] with a broken back is not the best thing I could have done. It’s going to take a while but we’re getting there, and I’m getting the power back, and looking forward to Saturday.”
Martin ranks among the leading favourites for the 2017 edition of Il Lombardia. He will face stiff competition from home favourites Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Fabio Aru (Astana), and the likes of Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac), Adam Yates (Orica-Scott), Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb), Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) and a host of other top names as befits the prestigious Monument.
Il Lombardia will be Martin’s final big event for Quick-Step Floors as he moves to UAE Team Emirates for 2018.