Daniel Martin remains upbeat with the days and 2019 season ahead despite falling short on the Jebel Hafeet summit finish at the UAE Tour.
The Irishman tried to double up for UAE Team Emirates one day after Fernando Gaviria won the stage two sprint finish. However, world champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) rode clear for the stage three win.
“It was fast, with a tailwind, basically just a sprint up the climb,” Martin said.
He caught his breath on the rocky mountain peaks rising high above the desert plains with Abu Dhabi and Dubai down below.
“I got a bit of a stitch there in the end, I couldn’t breath. I think it’s just from the type of effort it is. It’s so early in the season to be doing that type of thing,” he continued.
“Obviously we want to try to win, that’s the aim in every stage this week to try to win a stage because it’s our home race, but I couldn’t have done more.”
UAE Team Emirates pushed hard one day after Gaviria’s win. Diego Ulissi attacked early on the Jebel Hafeet climb, Martin followed race leader Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) and attacked himself.
“I think that just shows the spirit of the team. Fernando wins yesterday and then he’s riding in the wind for us today,” Martin explained. “We are all here together to try to get the best results possible. Unfortunately, I didn’t win today but I gave it everything.”
Valverde flew free to win on Jebel Hafeet, which he conquered in 2018 to win the Abu Dhabi Tour overall. Martin finished fifth at 12 seconds and climbed to sixth overall at 54 seconds behind Roglič in the red jersey.
“Team Jumbo-Visma set a really high tempo today,” added Martin. “I saw Primož when he went he was a little bit on the limit and that’s why I attacked, but he was able to come with me. I saw he was really suffering so I accelerated again and he still had the legs to accelerate after me, and that’s where I got dropped.”
The race continues tomorrow with a small uphill sprint finish where Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) won in the 2018 Dubai Tour. Later, it climbs another summit finish, Jebel Jais, which could suit Martin.
“There are a few complicated stages to come, tomorrow, then… Every day is complicated here, it can be with the wind, we saw that yesterday, but we are going to take it day by day and look at the GC to see where we stand,” said Martin.
“Roglič is very strong, he obviously came here ready and they are 100 per cent focused around him, and that’s a big advantage for him. He is going really good, he is strong in the GC and he is a very strong position there.”
Martin began his season with a fourth overall in the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and is building for the the Tour de France later in July.
“It’s just a bit of my training that I’m missing at the moment, but I’m pretty happy anyway,” he said before riding back down the climb. “It’s not what we wanted but it’s not bad.”