Cycling: 103rd Liege-Bastogne-Liege 2017 / Men Daniel MARTIN (IRL)/ Liege – Liege (Ans) (258Km) / LBL Luik Bastenaken / Men / pool bp © Tim De Waele

Ahead of his fifth Grande Boucle appearance, the 30-year-old sat down and talked about his objectives.

One of the two Irish riders to line up at the start of the Tour de France, Dan Martin didn’t hide his ambitions for another strong overall result; after placing ninth last year, the Quick-Step Floors rider is confident the past experience can help him finish higher now, especially as in 2016 only six seconds separated him from seventh place.

“Last year I made some mistakes, but I learned a lot from that race, so I’m very optimistic about my chances this time around. I’m coming here without any pressure, but with a big confidence boost from my Dauphiné ride earlier this month. Actually, my entire season was strong and consistent, and I don’t think I’ve finished a stage race outside the top six. If I’ll keep that record intact by Paris, I’ll be happy”, said Dan, one of the 12 Quick-Step Floors riders to have won a race in 2017.

Top 3 finishes at Paris-Nice and Critérium du Dauphiné, together with a brace of runner-up places at Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, are Dan’s top results so far this season, one which saw him make another step forward in the Quick-Step Floors jersey. It comes by no surprise that halfway through the season, he lies in 7th place in the World Tour individual classification.

“We are coming here with a strong and experienced team, one who can predict race tactics. If you look over our squad, you can notice it’s very solid, especially for the first week of the race, which in the past used to be a problem for me. Many things can happen during the opening part of the Tour de France, and having such a team by my side makes me very happy”, the 30-year-old explained.

Ever since the 2017 Tour de France was unveiled last October, many have said it boosts an atypical course, despite taking the peloton through all of the countries five major mountain ranges, mainly due to its three summit finishes, steep climbs it brings to the fore and limited time trial kilometers. For Dan, all these are strong reasons to find the parcours very much to his liking.

“First stages could be tricky, but if I get through them without any bad luck and leave the legs do the talking, then things will be just fine. The steep climbs could make for an aggressive and unpredictable race, just as we had at the Dauphiné, when the GC guys were left without any teammates before the last ascent. There will be many opportunities to gain or lose time, so we might be in for an open and spectacular race.”