By Nigel Wynn
The 31-year-old Irishman made the switch from Quick-Step Floors to UAE Team Emirates in the winter, and will make his racing debut in his new colours in the Portuguese race from Wednesday, February 14.
“Going in to Volta ao Algarve I have a mixture of nerves and excitement. There is always anxiety to get back to racing and find out where the fitness levels are, but I feel good and have trained well in the winter months, but racing is of course always different," said Martin in a team statement.
"It’s exciting to finally pin a number on the UAE Team Emirates jersey and start racing with a great group of guys."
Martin will join British sprinter Ben Swift in UAE's line-up in the Algarve, along with Italians Valerio Conti and Edward Ravasi, Norwegian Vegard Stake Laengen, Slovenian Jan Polanc and Australian Rory Sutherland.
Although it's the first time that the group has raced together, Martin says they have already gelled at team gatherings.
"Of course it will take time to learn how to race well together but we already did two nice training camps with lots of laughs and getting to know each other.
"We have a very strong team coming to Algarve so I can’t wait to get started."
Martin put in a career-best performance at the 2017 Tour de France, where he finished sixth overall despite fracturing two of his vertebrae in a crash with Richie Porte (BMC) on stage nine. He will lead UAE's team in the 2018 Grand Tours alongside fellow new signing Fabio Aru, and seek other opportunities throughout the season.
"UAE Team Emirates share my vision, my attention to detail and my passion for the sport, and as I enter into the most important years of my career, they offer me the best platform possible to reach my potential and fulfill my sporting goals,” Martin said last year after it was announced he would sign with UAE.
The 2018 Volta ao Algarve takes place over five stages from February 14-18, and will be decided by the final day’s individual time trial, comprising 14.2 flat kilometres.
Martin will face stiff competition from the likes of former winners Geraint Thomas and Michal Kwiatkowski (both Team Sky), Richie Porte (BMC) and Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin).
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