The Irishman says he's racing with no fear and won't have a dedicated GC team around him
Martin placed ninth in the Tour de France in 2016 and took a confidence boost from his third place ride in the Critérium du Dauphiné earlier in June.
“I learned a lot last year, I raced like an idiot last year,” Martin said after a pre-Tour press conference with his team-mates in Düsseldorf.
“I made mistakes. It was the first year riding the GC at the Tour de France and the first time climbing in the mountains at the front in the Tour. I learned how it is different than the Vuelta a España and how you need to race it differently.”
Martin moved from team Cannondale/Garmin after eight years to join Quick-Step for 2016. He topped his seventh place that he had already in the 2014 Vuelta a España with his “idiot” ride in the Tour.
He rode consistently through this spring, placing top-10 everywhere: sixth in the Volta ao Algarve, third in Paris-Nice, sixth in the Volta a Catalunya, second in La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and of course, third this month in the Critérium du Dauphiné.
Martin, unlike Team Sky’s Chris Froome, races without a fine-tuned classification team.
“I don’t think about it. I tag onto the back of these guys [team-mates] on flat stages and so it’s as good as having a GC team on flat stages,” Martin added.
“There are enough teams who are going to ride very hard to the bottom of the mountains. I just learned to race like that. For me, it’s more important to stay safe on the flat stages in the start of the Tour, or at any time in the Tour.
“With this group of guys, for stages that are my weak point, I have an incredible back up. As good as or better than any other GC rider. I can sit behind Marcel, that’s nice and the best draft as anyone.
“The route this year doesn’t play into the hands of the stronger teams. Last year in the Tour, being on the wheel, like in the Arcalís stage in Andorra, you get so much draft sitting on the wheel that a team was important where as the climbs this year are so difficult.
“Obviously there’s still going to be time where it’s important to have a team, but I’ll find some draft somewhere.”
Pundits rarely mention the 30-year-old in the same breath as Froome, Nairo Quintana and Richie Porte. Martin thinks they should, though.
“I beat them in the Dauphiné, so its not… I think everyone in the race is going to try to win the Tour de France, so why not go in and try and see what happens?
“Everyone is human here and everyone can have a bad day, whoever has the least bad bad day can win the Tour.”