Tony Martin is aiming to tackle the Belgian cobbled classics for the first time in his career, as he seeks a fresh challenge for the 2016 racing season.
The 30-year-old German is perhaps most well known for his prowess against the clock, where he has taken innumerable victories during his career, including three time trial world titles.
The Etixx-QuickStep rider is also known for launching attacks during road races, and then effectively time trialling solo to victory – which is how he won stage four of the 2015 Tour de France, which featured cobbled sectors. It’s a tactical ploy that rival and fellow former time trial world champion Fabian Cancellara has used to win a host of Classics.
The modest Martin is downplaying his chances of winning, though, and says that he will ride a couple of semi-Classics and see how it goes before tackling anything bigger. Martin has only ever taken part on one cobbled classic, Dwars door Vlaanderen in 2008 – his first year as a professional – where he placed 42nd.
“I wanted to try some new things, so that’s why I talked with the team at the end of last season and agreed to go for the Belgian classics and semi-classics,” said Martin.
“I will mix the regular races I usually do with the one-day races, which means I’ll line-up for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Dwars door Vlaanderen, and if everything will work well I will try to be part of the team that will go in Ghent-Wevelgem, Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix in the following months.
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“Obviously, I can’t say that I want to win there, but to test myself, to see how I do in this kind of races.”
Martin had a variable 2015 season. Just two days after he won stage four of the Tour de France and put himself into the yellow jersey for the first time in his career, he crashed out of the race with a broken collarbone.
After a period of recovery, Martin then took on the time trial world championship in Richmond, USA, but he finished a disappointing seventh behind Vasil Kiryienka.
Martin told Cycling Weekly back in February 2015 that he was considering riding the cobbled classics, but had doubts about selection in a team full of classics specialists. Now, it seems he has his chance.