Dan Martin: 'I've never felt this good this late into a Tour de France'

The Etixx-Quick Step rider is looking ahead into the final stages of the 2016 Tour de France, and thinks he could gain a couple of places on GC

Dan Martin on stage nine of the 2016 Tour de France
(Image credit: Watson)

Irishman Dan Martin (Etixx-Quick Step) is focused forward on maintaining if not improving a top 10 finish at the Tour de France provided his legs allow in the remaining two mountain stages.

Martin suffered in Thursday’s alpine time trial but still holds 10th place in the general classification he has raced for with no predetermined ambition, and with a team catering for marquee sprinter Marcel Kittel.

“I’m really happy with how I’m feeling. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this good this late into a Tour. It’s the first time I’ve done the Tour de France and haven’t been sick,” Martin said yesterday.

“Top 10 would be nice. Hopefully I’ve got the legs to have a go again. If I make the race harder as well maybe, I can jump up a few places. I’m definitely not looking behind me.”

The lean 29-year-old gave an indication to his climbing strength at the Critérium du Dauphiné last month where he jumped from fourth to third overall with a poised attack in the closing kilometres of the final stage.

Martin yesterday put his notable results down to a move to Andorra this season and a fresh start with new team Etixx-Quick Step, which he joined after eight years at incarnations of Garmin (now Cannondale-Drapac).

“I moved to Andorra and am climbing more, doing more altitude in my [training] rides,” he said. “My time trial has paid a little bit for that but I’m really enjoying climbing with the best and being able to attack as well.

"I’m one of the few that have actually wanted to attack [at the Tour]. I’m enjoying racing again and that’s what Etixx-Quick Step has brought me back to.”

Martin admitted his legs were fatigued after the second time trial of the race but was confident of being able to bounce back for Friday and Saturday’s decisive mountain stages, which could see a considerable shake-up of the overall behind yellow jersey Chris Froome (Team Sky), who has a healthy lead.

“If you have a bad day at this stage you’re going to lose minutes. It’s still pretty open, the race, you just have to recover,” he said.

“I don’t know if I had a bug last week because I didn’t feel like me, my legs weren’t the same. I feel back to the way I felt in the Pyrénées again.

“The boys have done an incredible job protecting me but it’s a case of I didn’t know what to expect coming into GC,” he added.

“I knew I was climbing well but I honestly haven’t done any work on my time trial at all and it’s a new team so I’m learning how this team works still.

"Next year we’ll definitely come back better equipped. It’s the first time I’ve done a GC in the Tour de France so that’s also a learning process. It’s really been a learning year and the results have been good.”

Martin’s previous career best at the Tour was 33rd in 2013.

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Sophie Smith is an Australian journalist, broadcaster and author of Pain & Privilege: Inside Le Tour. She follows the WorldTour circuit, working for British, Australian and US press, and has covered 10 Tours de France.