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After many weeks of speculation linking him to the team, Etixx – Quick-Step has confirmed that Classic specialist and stage race rider Dan Martin has inked a two year deal with the squad.
Martin has competed the entirety of his pro career with the Slipstream/Cannondale-Garmin squad but has decided that it is time for change. The 29 year old told CyclingTips recently that he felt a move to new surroundings would help him to progress and now elaborates on that in the team announcement.
“I’m really excited to join the team, which has been a point of reference in cycling for years,” he stated on Friday. “I hope to be able to take the next step in my career with Etixx – Quick-Step. I would like to improve even more and establish consistency with my performances. I think I am entering an important moment of my career at my age. I feel I am stronger than ever, mentally and physically.”
Martin won the 2013 Liège-Bastogne-Liège and last year’s Il Lombardia, showing his ability in the hilly Classics and also as an intelligent tactician. His past results also include stage wins in the 2011 Vuelta a España and in the 2013 Tour de France, as well as seventh overall in the 2014 Vuelta.
He is also a previous winner of the Tour de Pologne and the Volta a Catalunya.
This season he finished second, second and fourth on stages of the Tour de France and was second on Thursday’s sixth stage of the Vuelta a España. He was sitting third overall in the race starting Friday’s stage.
Etixx – QuickStep is losing Classics contender Michal Kwiatkowski, the current world champion, plus the stage race rider Rigoberto Uran. Martin ticks both those boxes, as Etixx – Quick-Step CEO Patrick Lefevere attests.
“The arrival of Dan Martin is an important moment for the team,” he stated. “He’s a guy who was able in the past to win one-day races, but also stage races. He has also been a GC contender at Grand Tours during his career. He is now 29-years-old, so he is at the peak of his career. He had an unlucky 2015 early season, but it is clear in his most recent performances, even at La Vuelta, that he has a lot of spirit.”
According to Lefevere, he sees Martin and the young Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe as mounting a two-pronged attack in the Ardennes Classics. He believes the latter can learn from him and will also benefit from a relieving of pressure.
“This can be a bit of an Ardennes ‘dynamic duo.’ Martin is a complete rider who is able to perform well in stage races, one-day-races, and Grand Tours. We are excited to see what he can do with an Etixx – Quick-Step jersey on his back for the next two years.”
Martin said that he sees his 2016 and 2017 seasons being based around the Ardennes Classics, where he will both be a protagonist and also help Alaphilippe’s evolution.
He also wants to see what he can do in multi-stage events, and mentions going for the overall classification in a Grand Tour as being an aim.
“I think I have potential to be a factor in the Grand Tours, whether it be stage hunting or in the overall classification,” he stated. “I am motivated to add to my top career performances, while proudly wearing the team colors of Etixx – Quick-Step for the next two years.”