Eager Dan Martin targets another top-five finish

Dan Martin (UAE Emirates) and Nicolas Roche (Sunweb) will fly the flag for Ireland on the Tour.

Eager Dan Martin targets another top-five finish

Dan Martin (UAE Emirates) and Nicolas Roche (Sunweb) will fly the flag for Ireland on the Tour.

The cousins are now seasoned professionals in the autumn of their careers. Roche, 35, will make his ninth appearance here having debuted in 2009 while Martin, 32, comes back hungry to build on his stage win from last year.

While Roche will likely fall into a team support role for his sprinter Michael Matthews, Martin is coming to the race as an undisputed leader.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner he made it clear he liked the look of the route.

“The fact that you have mountain stages scattered throughout the race instead of 10 days flat and 10 days hard is good,” said Martin.

“I would have liked maybe one more mountain-top finish but it’s very similar to the 2016 route which was the best Tour for me on paper.”

This may be Martin’s best, and certainly one of his last, chances to dispute the general classification. His team are not as well-drilled as the other big teams like Ineos (formerly Sky) or Astana, but this is nothing new for Martin who has carved a career from fending for himself.

Martin’s leadership at the Tour has happened almost by accident. UAE Emirates team star, Fabio Aru, was ruled out of action with iliac artery surgery earlier in the year which gave Martin the green light for the Tour. Aru is back now, but the Italian is yet to truly prove his fitness. On the eve of the race Martin was keen to insist however, that he himself will lead the team.

“I’ve been close to the top five before and I’m ready to try and finish as high up on GC as possible. My teammate Fabio Aru had surgery only two months ago. He will not lose time intentionally but I’m the leader. said Martin.

“I feel like I have unfinished business at the Tour purely because I have never had a clear run at it. I’ve never gone through the Tour without sickness or crashes. In my mind I still don’t know what I’m capable of yet, so that’s exciting.

“If I can get to Paris without misfortune… who knows what’s possible? For sure I’d love to win it and I’m definitely going to have some fun trying.”

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