Dan Martin, who is set to join UAE-Team Emirates from Quick-Step Floors, believes that winning the Tour de France is no longer an unrealistic goal
At the Belgian team he has recorded two successive top-10 finishes in the Tour de France, coming ninth in 2016 and sixth this July, his highest GC result in a Grand Tour; his previous best was seventh at the Vuelta a España in 2014.
The recently-turned 31-year-old, who is racing the Tour of Britain this week, believes that at his new team he can improve in the Tour even more, and even claim the yellow jersey.
“It doesn’t go for everyone, but if you’re on the startline, you can win the Tour,” Martin said. “I learned this year that there is a possibility. I have the capability to do the best on the climbs and my time trialling is improving a lot.”
Martin’s ability against the clock has often been his undoing in stage races. “I’ve made a big improvement this year and UAE want to develop it, too,” he said.
“It’s a crucial part of the sport now. If you look at the prologue in Düsseldorf this year, I was the third best GC guy behind Chris [Froome] and [Simon] Yates.
“Beating Chris is going to be incredibly difficult as he is one of the best time trialists in the world, but that group behind him, I am there or thereabouts.”
Although the route for the 2018 Tour has yet to be announced, Martin confirmed that he would in all probability be riding La Grand Boucle next July, and he is excited to be going with a team fully supportive of his general classification intentions.
“The way my programme usually works, it’s very hard to peak at the Ardennes and then go to the Giro,” he added.
“The Tour is the important one. It’s the one that if I don’t go to with a full team’s backing, and try and go for the podium – something I could have potentially got this year without the crash – I’d look back at it later on in my career and think ‘what if’.
“Obviously this year I went to the Tour as a team leader, but there was still Marcel [Kittle] in the team and that created a division of power. I’ve got a team with UAE that fully believe in the ambition and potential to reach the podium.”
Fabio Aru is also expected to join Martin as one of the team’s newest recruits, and the two-time Monument victor thinks that in the event of having himself and Aru in the same Tour team, that could make him stronger.
“Fabio always enjoy riding the Giro, but if we were both at the Tour, what a tag team we’d have,” Martin said.
“That could have a real big potential to change the race for us both. Having that back up, having that ability to attack the other guys, that could be a lot of fun.”