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Martin laid back about Lombardy prospects

Posted 15 October 2010

With less than 24 hours to the start of the Tour of Lombardy Dan Martin is showing little signs of being weighed down by the pressure that comes with being branded as a favourite to win the final classic of the season.

The Garmin Transitions rider was in a relaxed and buoyant mood when Irish Pro Cycling caught up with him at his team hotel in Northern Italy despite revealing the remarkable preparation he has undertaken for the race.

Martin skipped the Vuelta á Espana and the World Championships in Geelong, Australia to focus exclusively on the race and he leaves little doubt that he is physically and mentally primed for it, even though he repeatedly refers to it as ‘just another bike race’.

He confesses that he underestimated just how fine tuned he is during last Saturday’s Giro dell’Emilia where his misjudgement of the finish cost him to concede first place to Rabobank’s Robert Gesink despite being the most aggressive rider in a 14 man breakaway.

“I knew from training that I was going good but racing is totally different from training. I messed up the finish there. I could have won. I was probably the strongest man in the race,” he admits.

“I didn’t realise that I was that strong until the end. I didn’t feel great early on but I kind of blew the cobwebs out later in the race. It was disappointing that I didn’t get the result but it’s given me great confidence,” he added.

Martin has taken a relaxed approach to this week’s build up to the Tour of Lombardy. He completed a team recon of the course and rode half of Thursday’s Giro del Piemonte to save his legs and has enjoyed a very relaxed atmosphere among his teammates and mechanics.

 “I’m pretty happy and in a good place at the moment. I’m not putting myself under any pressure. I’m going to go out and have fun and put on a bit of a show. I’ve worked really hard to be in this position and to hone my form for this race,” he remarked.

“Winning would be great but I’m just going into the race to do my best. You are always hoping to be at the front when it matters in a race like this but I’m not going into it saying I’m going to attack here or I’m going to attack there. I just have to hope it plays out my way because either way this is a big race and a big experience for me.

“Last year I was just hanging on at the end, to be honest. Okay, I was there at the final and I was involved in the race for the last hour but I wouldn’t read too much into that. This is all about experience for a rider like me but for this time of year I’m really motivated and I’m ready for it,” he said.

“I’ve felt good training and I’ve been training long and hard. I went to Christian Meier’s wedding in Canada and had an amazing time there. I came back with great mental freshness. When I feel good like that I love riding my bike. It feels like it’s the start of the season again,” he continued.

Martin accepts that he will be a marked man throughout the race but believes that the new course where the climb of the Colma di Sormano replaces the traditional closing climb of the Civiglo will have a much bigger impact on deciding the outcome than any one team’s ability to control the race.

“It’s going to be a great race. Putting a climb into race after 220 kilometres with 40 kilometres to go will certainly have an impact and it’s not just about who has the legs at that point.  The new descent is really technical on a really good road surface. It’s going to super fast and the descent could change the race.

“It will be difficult this year because I’m going to be more of a marked man, but that could lead to good things. Yes, they will be watching me and if they think I’m still dangerous at any point then I should be thinking that they’re right and that I am dangerous. In a race of 260 kilometres anything can happen,” he reasoned.

Martin is comforted by the fact that his teammate Tom Danielson is also starting the race in good form and is confident that the American takes some of the pressure off by giving the team another card to play.

“Tom gives us another option. Gilbert though is strong coming out of the Giro del Piemonte with another win. He put the two back to back last year and he can do that again. He’s obviously the favourite.

“Then you have Nibali and Kolobnev. Those guys got straight off a plane from Australia and got fourth and fifth in the Giro dell’Emilia. They will be a hell of a lot stronger in Lombardy, in my view.

“Then you have a rider like Scaproni who is always going to be there. I spoke to Cadel Evans during Piemonte and he’s super motivated. He’s got Santambrogio and a really strong team around him. You can also add riders like Sammy Sanchez and Rodriguez to the list of talented bike riders who could win.

“I’m not going to make any predictions. The allergies and things that were stopping me and leading to a lot of frustration, all that has been released now. I looking forward to the race and I’m dreading the season finish when I think about how good I’m feeling right now,” he said.

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