Dan Martin insists that he has made a "sporting choice" to leave Quick-Step Floors after two seasons, but has looked back fondly at his time with the Belgian super-team where he says their winning mentality has been imprinted on his own psyche.
He last week told Cycling Weekly about his excitement in joining his new team, but his current employers have privately admitted that they are sad to see Martin departing, both for his riding talent and his character.
Martin, too, expressed sadness but preferred to draw on the positives he has experienced. "It's the winning atmosphere of this team," he told CW.
"If you look at my career, each year I have made steady progression and have got better. I'm not sure how much of that has been due to being in this team, but being surrounded by guys who are used to winning and staff who are used to winning can only help.
"They go into every single race with the objective of trying to find a way of winning. It's special, this team. That's definitely something I have learned these last two years, that the atmosphere of a team is crucial.
"That's part of the psychology. [Last week at the Tour of Britain] even when Fernando [Gaviria] hasn't quite finished the job off in the end and finished second, we've been gutted.
"There's never a moment of celebration when you get second. Liège-Bastogne-Liège and La Flèche Wallonne this year [where Martin finished second in both], we were gutted not to win."
Martin is currently preparing for the World Championships with the biggest ever Ireland squad of six riders. The Tour of Britain was his first race since the Tour de France after doctors ordered he had three weeks completely off the back as a result of the back injury he suffered during the Tour.
His return to the Quick-Step bus was "strange" though. "It's strange not to be coming back," he said. "Especially when I'm hearing the guys talking about next year already. You spend so much time on the road with them that it almost becomes like your family. It was the same when I left Cannondale.
"But I am incredibly excited [about joining UAE-Team Emirates] and it's a great opportunity I have going forward that takes the edge off that sadness.
"For your sporting career, if you're sentimental about these things it can hold your career back, and this time I have very much made the sporting choice and gone with the opportunity that enables me to try and make the most of the best years of my career."
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