Martin’s agent Berkhout on departure from Cannondale-Garmin: ‘Sometimes you have to change team to make the next step’

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With an announcement confirming his move to Etixx – Quick-Step thought to be imminent, Dan Martin’s agent Eelco Berkhout has said that it was time for the Irishman to turn a page in the sport and move on to new things.

“If you are a sportsman and you are eight years in the same team, change is good. It is like in football.,.,sometimes a player has to change team to make next step,” he told CyclingTips on Tuesday.

“It is not because Garmin is not a good team. It is more for a new environment, new people, new team-mates, everything. For Dan, he has had his whole pro career on the same team. Now, for the first time in his career, he had the feeling that it is time to move on and go for another direction. That moment was now.”

Martin turned professional with the Slipstream [now Cannondale-Garmin] in 2008 and has remained there ever since. He has clocked up important results such as victories in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Il Lombardia plus stage wins in the Vuelta a España and Tour de France.

However, after eight years in the argyle team strip he’ll don a different jersey next season.

Asked about suggestions that the rider will be part of Etixx – Quick-Step in 2016, Berkhout was unable to give official confirmation.

“The only thing I can say is that it is true we are close. But we can’t announce anything. It is up to the team to announce the transfer in any case. For me, I can only say it is going in the right direction.”

The Belgian team’s general manager Patrick Lefevere told Het Nieuwsblad on Tuesday that the deal was essentially done.

“In the difficult hilly Classics, the departure of Kwiatkowski to Team Sky leaves a gap,” he stated. “Agreed, Julian Alaphilippe this year was second in the Flèche Wallonne and second in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but he did it again under the wings of Kwiatkowski.

“Julian is still only 23 years old. It would not be fair to him all next year with the pressure of having to win. Along with Daniel Martin, he can form a lethal pair next year in the Ardennes.”

Lefevere also pointed out that Martin finished seventh overall in the 2014 Vuelta a España. He believes he can make further progress in that direction.

Berkhout agrees, but also states the rider will continue to target single day events.

“He is really good in what he is doing, in the Classics like Lombardia, Liège, Flèche. Of course he still wants to try to do a better GC as he thinks he is able to do top five or maybe more in the Giro or the Vuelta or, you never know, the Tour.

“But his main focus is always the Classics. He has already said in the past his goal is to be once maybe the number one rider of the WorldTour. He is the kind of rider who can take points in a lot of races. He showed already a lot of times…he finished sixth, ninth, seventh, I think.

“When some older guys like Rodriguez and Valverde quit cycling, I think there is maybe some space for Dan to take the number one position.”

What’s clear is a page has turned and he is ready for the next step.

“I can understand him. He was really loyal to the team for a long time. He had a great time on Slipstream, he had a great relationship with Jonathan [Vaughters] and other people,” said Berkhout.

“This is nothing against Slipstream or other people on the team, it is more for him that he was looking for a new challenge.”

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