DAN MARTIN

Procycling - - Prologue -

I am writ­ing this well in ad­vance of Le Grand Dé­part but I can hon­estly say I have never been more ex­cited for the Tour de France. Ev­ery edi­tion that passes I fall more in love with the Tour and I am go­ing back with greater op­ti­mism than ever af­ter last year’s re­sult.

Like ev­ery other GC rider, I’ll strike a much more re­laxed pose if I nav­i­gate the first nine stages with min­i­mal time loss. For a rider with my skillset there are a num­ber of op­por­tu­ni­ties in the first few days though. Two short and sharp up­hill fin­ishes on stages 5 and 6 are par­tic­u­larly en­tic­ing, and I think it’ll be best to en­ter those races with a one-day Clas­sic mind­set. It’s best to be ag­gres­sive rather than try to play catch up. The Tour is the one race where teams spend a lot of re­sources try­ing not to lose, as op­posed to try­ing to win. The dilemma is ei­ther gam­ble and sit back or burn your team’s en­ergy stay­ing right up front, hope­fully out of harm’s way.

The first moun­tain stage to Le Grand Bor­nand may not seem de­ci­sive, but hit­ting the Alps af­ter two weeks on rel­a­tively flat roads (we ar­rive in France the Tues­day be­fore the race starts), will come as a shock. That was some­thing I ex­pe­ri­enced on a sim­i­lar route in 2015 when I lost my GC chances on the first moun­tain. I am yet to pre­view the Alps, with a recon sched­uled post-Dauphiné, but stage 12 to Alpe d’Huez will be a high­light. It’s not the hard­est climb and it may not be de­ci­sive, but there is noth­ing like the at­mos­phere on the 21 hair­pins. The Pyre­nees will make it a bru­tal fi­nal week. The short 65km stage to a new climb is even tougher than it looks on pa­per, and the Col de Portet is po­ten­tially the tough­est fin­ish I have ever done.

The fi­nal moun­tain stage passes some clas­sic climbs that are rich in his­tory, but un­less some­body shows weak­ness, the GC fight will come in the TT. It’ll be mem­o­rable. I can’t wait to fight all the way to Paris.

Af­ter a crash ham­pered his 2017 Tour e fort, Dan is ex­cited to get go­ing at this year’s race

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