Dan Martin begins his seventh Tour de France today when cycling’s premier event gets underway in Brussels, a city hosting a stage for the 11th time.
The Birmingham-born Irish cyclist, who has three top finished in the race on his palmarés, has admitted that, for the first time, he has trained specifically for the July grand spectacle:
“This is the first year I’ve really trained specifically for the Tour de France. Since December we’ve been talking about it and I’ve made it the focus.”
The 32-year-old Irishman, who finished eight in Paris in 2018, is part leads the UAE Team Emirates squad which comprises eight riders from six different countries.
Italian Fabio Aru, Norwegians Sven Erik Bystrøm and Alexander Kristoff and Vegard Stake Laengen from Norway, Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa of Portugal, Colombian Sergio Henao (Col) and Belgium rider Jasper Philipsen will partner Martin in the season’s second Grand Tour, which runs until Sunday 28th July.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s opening stage, Martin, who won stage 6 last year, said:
“I’m really excited to get racing again at the Tour. I feel good in training and the Dauphiné went really well, even if we didn’t see the same aggressive racing in the mountains that we normally do. I’ve come out of the Dauphiné well and I like the look of the course this year, plus we have a super strong team with a lot of different options and cards to play. I’m just looking forward to get started now.”
This year’s Tour de France features four climbs at altitudes of more than 2,000 metres while today’s opening stage is 194.5 kilometres with a 2km long slightly uphill on the Park Royal Avenue in Brussels at the end.Sprinters such as Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal), Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma), Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Martin’s teammate Alexander Kristoff and André Greipel (Arkéa-Samsic) are expected to be in the mix at the end of today’s action.