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Fourth overall in 2012, runner-up last year and starting the race after winning last Sunday’s Il Lombardia, Dan Martin is probably the hottest favourite for the Tour of Beijing.
The Garmin-Sharp rider has come into the race in strong form and will draw on both his climbing ability and also his past experience in the race to try to finally capture the final overall win.
Martin went close last year but was outmanoeuvred by Beñat Intxausti and his Movistar team on stage four to the top of Mentougou Miaofeng mountain. Intxausti attacked and Martin left his chase late, losing out by just three seconds.
The time bonus put Intxausti ten seconds ahead and he protected this advantage over Martin on the final stage, winning the race.
Twelve months on, Martin comes in with his confidence sky-high after his Il Lombardia win, and believes that things could work out better for himself and his Garmin-Sharp team.
“The guys did their best for me but I was isolated with ten kilometres to go on the climb,” he explained, talking about what went wrong then.
“Beñat was able to get away because you had three or four good riders from Movistar attack. Now that we’ve got Ryder and me, there’s two guys to go for it and hopefully we’re in a much stronger position.”
Martin has however had some complications to his run-up to the race; the team’s bikes were delayed in being released by Chinese customs, meaning that he has done less kilometres than he would have liked this week.
“There’s always the challenge of having the time difference and the different nutritional conditions out here, but we’re not the only team that hasn’t had bikes for two days so it’s just not ideal,” he said.
“Hopefully the race won’t be too hard tomorrow [Friday] and we can get through it.”
Martin’s symbol of the panda plus China’s association with the animal has been utilised by WWF International [the World Wide Fund for Nature conservation organization], which also uses the animal in its logo. It is a partner of his Garmin-Sharp team and WWF is using the Tour of Beijing as a platform to raise funds for its initiatives.
Martin will use a bespoke, bamboo-themed POC Octal helmet in the race, designed by East London-based designer Steve Edge. This will be auctioned off after the race here. Should things go to plan and if he wins the race, the value will be higher again, giving him additional motivation.