Tony Martin: “Cobblestone races – a new challenge”
Besides the usual races he does each season, the 30-year-old German wants to ride in 2016 two of cycling’s toughest one-day events.
Last year saw Tony Martin take five wins, one of which came in the Tour de France, where he finished first in stage four to Cambrai, after an audacious attack inside the final three kilometers of the day. That victory – his fifth in the Grande Boucle – allowed him to don the prized yellow jersey for the first time in his career. Unfortunately, just two days later, the German was forced to retire from the race due to a fractured collarbone he suffered in the run-in to Le Havre and had to take a break in order to recover, which delayed his preparations for the World Championships.
"2015 was a season with a lot of up and downs. My main goal was to take a stage and the yellow jersey in the Tour de France. I reached my goal, and that was brilliant. On the other hand, I didn't win as much as I expected in the spring. The condition was always good, but I missed some luck. Then, as I was approaching the last part of the season, I had my mind on the Richmond World Championships, but did not mange to win the rainbow jersey, and that was a huge disappointment", said Tony Martin of his eight season in the pro ranks.
For next year, things are pretty much clear in terms of racing schedule and goals. The German powerhouse will be gunning for a record-equaling fourth world time trial title and another stage victory in the Tour de France. But there's more than just stage races and the World Championships for Tony Martin, who made an important addition to his program for 2016 and is now set to ride the cobbled races campaign for the first time in his career. Previously, his sole experience in a Northern semi-classic came in 2008, at Dwars door Vlaanderen, where he finished 42nd.
I wanted to try some new things, so that's why I talked with the team at the end of last season and agreed to go for the Belgian classics and semi-classics.
"I will mix the regular races I usually do with the one-day races, which means I'll line-up for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Dwars door Vlaanderen, and if everything will work well I will try to be part of the team that will go in Gent-Wevelgem, Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix in the following months. Obviously, I can't say that I want to win there, but to test myself, to see how I do in this kind of races. It would be great to be useful to the team in those races that are really important for us, as we are a team with Belgian roots. This spring will be a test and if the signals will be good, then I'd like to continue on this road. But first I need to gain some experience, so that's why I'm downplaying any expectations", concluded Tony Martin, who is now attending Etixx – Quick-Step's second training camp of the winter, in Calpe.
Photo credit: Tim De Waele