'I'm stronger than I’ve ever been right now' says Dan Martin going into Giro d'Italia 2021

The Irishman gained confidence from his fourth place at last year's Vuelta a España and hopes to complete his Grand Tour stage win set

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Dan Martin is set to lead his Israel Start-Up Nation squad into battle for the overall title at the Giro d'Italia 2021 and he comes into the race with a lot of confidence.

Martin has slowly been building his form up for a tilt at the Giro and looked to be in very good form at his last race, the Tour of the Alps. The two-time Monument winner was right up in the podium spots going into the penultimate day but a couple of crashes on the descent to the line meant he plummeted down to 15th in the general classification.

He hasn't managed to pull off a win as of yet this season but did manage third behind Simon Yates (BikeExchange) and Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) on stage two of the Tour of the Alps, beating Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) and Jefferson Cepeda (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), all of whom are riding the Giro.

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Martin said ahead of the Giro: "At the end of last season, I decided it was time for a new challenge and I was really excited to do the Giro d’Italia. This is a course that really suits me.

"I know that I’m stronger than I’ve ever been right now – both mentally and physically. My fourth place overall in the Vuelta last year was a big stepping stone to becoming more confident in doing well in the GC.

"Obviously, winning a stage is also a big goal. I have two in the Tour de France and two in the Vuelta a España and to complete the set of Grand Tour victories is a big ambition of mine."

Martin looked particularly solid throughout last year's Vuelta until the final week where he started to lose time to his podium rival, Hugh Carthy (EF-Nippo) who eventually took third thanks to some fantastic rides in the mountains.

Israel Start-Up Nation sports director, Niki Sørensen said: "The main goal for us is to do a top result in the GC with Dan.

"He is in great shape and he will have full support from the team to reach his and our goals. However, we will also aim for stage wins as we have a team that can play a part in all terrains in this race."

The other riders who are in the team to support Martin and also seek stage wins are a stage winner from last year's race Alex Dowsett, very solid climber Alessandro De Marchi, Latvian puncher Krists Neilands, Israeli rider Guy Niv, sprinter Davide Cimolai, time triallist Mathias Brändle and all-rounder Patrick Bevin.

The Giro d'Italia starts with an 8.6km time trial around the city of Turin on May 8 and finishes three weeks later with another time trial into Milan.

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