Dan Martin: There’s no room for me to talk about personal ambition - it’s never a bad thing to be surrounded by strong riders 

The Israel Start-Up Nation leader shares his thoughts as Chris Froome and Mike Woods join the team 

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Dan Martin says riding alongside Chris Froome and Mike Woods at Israel Start Up Nation can only be a good thing, as the team grows in strength for 2021. 

Irishman Martin is now racing his second season with the Israeli WorldTour team, having been the squad’s sole Grand Tour leader last season.

But as ISN continues to grow after its inaugural WorldTour season in 2020, Martin will now share leadership with four-time Tour de France winner Froome and three-week contender Mike Woods. 

Speaking from the team’s training camp in Girona, Spain, 34-year-old Martin said: “It's never a bad thing to have team-mates by your side in the final of races, to be surrounded by the strong riders that we now are in this team.

“It just gives me confidence. I know how much I can learn from guys like Chris and Mike. The guys who are in this team now, it's really about sharing knowledge and we can learn from each other and that way we become a stronger team together. 

“There's no room for me to sit here and talk about personal ambition. It's about what's best for the team, and we're going to work together in the best way possible to get results.” 

Martin, a former winner of Il Lombardia and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, spent two seasons with UAE Team Emirates, but was disappointed to leave the team without winning a race in 2019 - only the second winless season of his career.  

Last season Martin came back into form during the 2020 Vuelta a España, winning ISN’s second Grand tour stage of the year and finishing fourth overall in Madrid.  

Woods, who has emerged as one of the one of the best climbers in the world in recent seasons, is joining the team from EF Pro Cycling and is expected to be a serious contender in the hilly Classics and an outsider in the Grand Tours.

The Canadian, also 34, said: “I'm really excited to be racing with Dan. When I first came into the sport a lot of people compared me to Dan and it's an honour for me to be racing with him. I think there's a lot of information and a lot of skills I can learn from him. He's just been so consistent over the years.”

Woods added that he hopes to support Martin in the same way fellow-Candian Ryder Hesjedal did during Martin’s 2013 Liège win. 

Israel Start-Up Nation manager Kjell Carlström, a former team-mate of Chris Froome, also has the challenge of balancing the ambitions of his star riders. 

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On the Froome and Martin partnership, Carlström said: “It's always good to have numbers, so that's clear. And I think both are very reasonable guys, they respect each other and they also respect the orders from the team. And I think if you see at all Grand Tours, contender teams they most of the time you have multiple guys competing for Grand Tours.

“I would also actually add another guy into that mix, Mike Woods , and also who knows what our younger guys can do, and how much they can develop - I'm thinking for example about Carl Fredrik Hagen. 

“It's not just about 2021, it's also about new guys, younger guys following in the footsteps of the more experienced guys.”