Dan Martin is in confident mood ahead of a hectic week on the cycling calendar.
Tomorrow, Martin tackles the big Belgian one-day Fleche-Wallone before turning his attention to the Liege-Bastogne-Liege on Sunday.
Martin has mixed emotions about tomorrow’s event having being pipped on the line by Alejando Valverde (Movistar) two years ago.
“Fleche Wallone is just such a buzz riding up the final climb to the finish,” Martin said of the 200-kilometre contest.
“The drama of a five-hour race coming down to the last 200 metres, and everyone in this huge tactical battle of timing and positioning makes it a brutal effort.
“It’s a race that has been incredibly cruel to me but also I’ve been very consistent with top 10s almost every time I’ve finished it.”
Martin changed teams at the end of last year, joining one of the strongest in the world in Etixx-QuickStep.
The move brought a certain pressure to establish himself after years of being the go-to guy at Cannondale Garmin.
“There’s an incredible atmosphere among the team now and that’s down to the directors,” he said.
“It’s a very young team but we’re well-drilled and we’ve multiple cards to play tomorrow and Sunday. I’m feeling really relaxed but focused; I feel good and have a great group to back me up. I’ve also learnt a lot about myself this year.
“The team has given me the confidence to make decisions and be that figurehead on the road this week.”
Martin is the only Irish rider in the race tomorrow but first cousin Nicolas Roche will be on the start-line for Sunday’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege, a race the former won in 2013.
Meanwhile, following the fallout of the ‘motorised bike scandal’ involving Belgian rider Femke Van den Dreissche at the World cyclocross championships in January, a report has alleged that elite male riders possibly used the technology in two subsequent races.
The investigation was carried out by France’s Stade 2 TV channel and Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
Their respective reporters contested that heat-detecting cameras used in the recent Strade Bianche and the Coppi e Bartali races found evidence of seven concealed motors in bikes.
The sport’s governing body, the UCI, have conducted random testing of bikes at races this year but have made no public comment on the issue.
They’ve also come under increasing pressure to permanently ban the use of disc brakes in the peloton after Spanish rider Francesco Ventoso suffered appalling injuries in Paris-Roubaix earlier this month.
In a statement released by the riders’ association, the CPA, they said “many riders, not all of them, expressed their fears related to the use of disc brakes such as burns and injuries from falls” but nothing has been done before now to prevent their use.
They claim “the UCI clearly wanted to continue the planned tests without taking into account the CPA remarks and despite the numerous red flags”.
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