Ambitious Martin set to focus on Tour’s big picture

Following his stunning stage win on Sunday’s ninth leg of the Tour de France, Ireland’s Dan Martin said he might now have to consider riding for the overall General Classification as he is now just over two minutes back on leader Chris Froome in eighth place.

Ambitious Martin  set to focus on Tour’s big picture

Martin ended a 21-year wait for an Irish Tour stage win in dramatic fashion when he outsprinted Danish powerhouse Jakob Fuglslang to the line in Bagneres-de-Bigorre and admitted he might now have to change his tactics.

“We’re there or thereabouts in the general classification and maybe we’ll have to start thinking about that,” he said last night.

“First we have to get the rest day out of the way and the time trial and there are a lot of dangerous stages coming up in the next few days.

“I think for now we’re just going to enjoy the stage win. Obviously so far I’ve coped the best out of the team and we’ll see how the Alps go.”

The Tour’s punishing final week could play in Martin’s favour as it is wickedly steep in parts.

“That third week looks pretty horrendous on paper but obviously the road is uphill so it suits me, but I think we’ll see that the person who wins this race might be the person whose bad day is the least bad.”

Martin entered the race in a team that featured five riders whose ambition it was to ride for the yellow jersey. But when the first of those, Christian Vande Velde, crashed hard and was forced out, and the others; Andrew Talanksy, Tom Danielson and Ryder Hesjedal all lost enough time to rule them out of contention, Martin was the last man standing and it’s likely he’ll not be afforded the same latitude to attack like he did two days ago.

“I won a stage now so this race is already a success. Whatever comes now is a bonus,” he said. “We are just going to keep taking it day by day. It has worked so far. That last week is looking impossibly hard. I wouldn’t be surprised if I had a bad day at some point, so I am not going to stress about it.”

Meanwhile, his father Neil admitted he was “speechless” after watching his son win on Sunday.

Martin Snr watched the extraordinary events unfold with his wife Maria in their house in Girona — where they now live — and though Neil always believed Dan had the talent to win, to see him actually do it in the biggest race of all, was just a dream come true.

“I texted him straight after and said ‘me and your mother are just speechless’,” said Neil.

“We watched it here in Girona, the phone has been going crackers with messages and comments on Twitter and everything, it’s just unbelievable, phenomenal.”

Neil did say he was worried Dan might not have the legs to come round Fuglslang in the finale.

“I didn’t think it was going to stick, especially when Belkin started taking up the chase, for whatever reason,” he said.

“I mean, they didn’t get anywhere in the sprint for third so I don’t quite understand why they did that but anyway... and he was always going to be faster than Fuglslang.

“There was a lot of talk about this last bend as well, the 90 degree bend, but tactically, Dan was phenomenal. He just got it right again. He’s very cool. He’s very intelligent when it comes to that. It was awesome.”

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