After losing his rainbow jersey in Ponferrada, Tony Martin goes into the 2015 season with the goal of taking back the coveted tunic and taking the yellow jersey in the Tour de France. The German also has the Hour Record on his agenda and may make an attempt already in 2015.
As part of the premiere of the Dutch cycling movie "Nieuwe Helden" which was organized by his manager Jörg Werner, Tony Martin joined Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb in Erfurt to watch the film, ask questions from the fans and spend nearly an hour to accomodate all requests for autographs. Martin even found time to speak to radsport-news.com about the upcoming season.
In the past, the Tour de France has always been a big goal for Martin but next year there may be little room for him to shine. The race only has one short 13.7km individual time trial on the opening day but the race remains a big goal for Martin.
"One or two days later, I have ready anything on the internet," he said about missing the route presentation. "But for a long time I had already known that the race will start with a short time trial in Utrecht so that was no surprise. In addition to the Words, this first day is the season highlight for me. I may have to wait a long time for the next chance to take the yellow jersey so I am looking forward to that."
If he takes the yellow jersey in the time trial, Martin may defend it for a long time. There are no major climbs in the first 9 stages and if he can get safely through the many classics stages, Martin may enjoy a long spell in yellow.
"Just to get the jersey once would be a big thing for me," he said. "But the first week is clearly designed so that you can keep i longer if you manage to avoid crashes."
Martin ended his season after the Wolds and is now back in training.
"I had my bike while I was on holiday in the Maldives but I am not really back in training yet," he said. "We call this the adaptation pgase. It is more of a preparation for the harder training in December. Now it is all about making sure that the muscles, bones and tendons are used to harder burden. So I am doing far smaller volumnes and not doing rides of five hours in the mountains - also because of the cold, of course."
The fact that Martin's main goal is a short time trial may cause him to change his training.
"The direct tour preparation will certainly be different," he said. "We have to carefully consider which races I am going to do because I need to be in peak shape on the first day instead of surviving the first week and trying to win a time trial on stage 8 or 9. Therefore, the preparation must be very specific and well-planned. I also have to practse the start and the acceleration out of turns as that can allow me to gain tenths of a second in Utrecht which could be the difference between getting yellow or not."
After his win at the Worlds, Bradley Wiggins said that he had benefited from being lighter on the climbs. As Martin is also targeting shorter stage races, he is considering the option of losing a bit of weight.
"I have not conrecte plans but I have noticed that I get well over the mountains when I have lost two or three kilos," he said. "In this respect, the issue of weight has been brought back into focus for me - less because of the time trial and more because of the GC in shorter stage races, not the Tour. So I have to look at where the limit is for me: Which kind of weight loss makes sense and when do I lose too much power? You can also do a lot of calculations but they are all useless if you are below you level due to malnutrition. This is a very sensitive issue which we have to approach and where you also have to have a kind of "trial and error" approach. How low can I get and still feel good? Losing weight is also not always the most pleasant topic. The psychological factor also plays a role."
In the past, Martin has won races like Paris-Nice, the Tour of Belgium, Volta ao Algarve and the Tour of Beijing. In 2015, stage races will again be a big goal for him.
"We have to consider very carefully whether the overal victory in a stage race should be the goal in the final one or two months before the Tour," he said. "But the stage races in the spring are a big issue. I can not reveal too much about my racing program but the focus will surely be on the smaller tours in the spring."
Martin's second big goal is the Worlds in RIchmond.
"When it was presented one year ago, I already looked at it," he said about the time trial course. "It is a bit undulating but not super hard. It should suit me. I have always liked to race in the USA and it is certainly a great World Championships. For the spectators, Ponferrada was not optimal, but a lot of cycling fans will be travelling to America. I'm looking forward to that."
After his defeat, Martin was hugely disappointed but the disappointment has now turned into motivation.
"Pretty quickly, the disappointment gave way for fighting spirit and the motivation to try to take the jersey next year," he said. "I have found the reasons why it didn't go well, and can now work to improve, analyze the errors and use it for the years to come. It would have been worse if I had been on top of my game, everything had been right in my head and I had been beaten by 20 seconds. That would have been a very, very tough nut to crack for me. But I have analyzed it and am excited to correct the mistakes and next year to show everyone that I'm the best."
Martin's main error was too much racing.
"Yes, you can say it in that way," he said. "After the good Tour, I wanted too much in the Vuelta and have raced to hard. I was tired and had miscalcuated something. I should had the courage to take a break. But I have learned from it and it is better that this is happening now than just before the Olympic Games. Because at the Olympics, I won't get another chance that quickly.
One big issue in recent monhts has been the Hour Record. Bradley Wiggins has already made it clear that he will make an attempt next summer. However, he may have to battle against Martin who is also considering giving it a try.
"That's on my agenda and I will discuss with my team in December how we can approach this issue without compromising my goals on the road," he said. "That is an essential factor: I need to find a time and a way of preparation which does not affect my road shape. I am surrounded by capable people and I have a team that supports me. So I think that we will find a date, preferably already in the coming year."
If time allows, I'm ready for it," he confirmed his ambition to make an attempt in 2015.
One disadvantage for Martin is the fact that he doesn't have Wiggins' experience on the track.
"In the beginning, his advantage is infinitely big due to his experience on the track," he said about Wiggins. "He comes from the track - no one is better than him. Luckily, I have also been educated there at the youth level and I feel good there but I definitely need longer time to adapt. I will probably need two, three or four attempt to beat the mark that he is likely to set. But I want to work in that direction and after the first training sessions on the track, I can say whether it is realistic or not."
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