UAE Tour 2019: Jebel Hafeet finish could decide race believes Dan Martin
UAE Team Emirates rider believes Tuesday's Stage 3 is where key time can be gained
Dan Martin believes that it will be the climb up Jebel Hafeet on Tuesday that could well prove decisive in deciding who will win the inaugural UAE Tour.
The UAE Team Emirates rider gets his challenge underway, along with the rest of the field in Sunday's opening team trial at Al Hudayriat Island in Abu Dhabi.
The Irishman, who joined the team last year and will be racing in the UAE for the first time, is one of the seven riders in the team aiming to claim victory in the general classification over the seven-stage event.
“I have been thinking about this race all winter and my role is to try and win,” Martin, who finished eighth in the Tour de France in July, said.
“I know how important it is to win in front of our sponsors and the team that we represent in the world circuit."
As to where the race will be won and lost, Martin, 32, believes the climax to Stage 3 on Tuesday at Jebel Hafeet is where crucial seconds can be won and lost.
He said: “This climb is steeper and if there isn’t much of head wind, the riders can make a gap. If there is a lot of wind, it’s difficult to make a gap."
Comparing it to the mountain finish on Stage 6 at Jebel Jais, he added: "It is a lot easier to make a gap at Jebel Hafeet than Jebel Jais.
"At Jebel Jais, if you are sitting behind somebody with the head wind, it’s super easy. So if the guy in front is making a lot more effort than the guy behind. "That’s why in the race everyone will stay in a group a lot longer until maybe five kilometres to the finish.”
As to the tactics to expect, he said: “Jebel Hafeet will be a lot more an aggressive race.
“It will be lot more attacking and the finish will be more like one guy, one guy, one guy. Jebel Jais is easier even though it’s a lot longer. Here you’ll see everybody sitting together until the last 3km to explode. It will be a case of being patient. Just wait, wait and then you will see the difference made.”
Another decisive point according to Martin is the Hatta Dam, which makes up the conclusion to Stage 4 on Wednesday.
“At Hatta Dam you can’t win the race but you can lose it,” he said. “Obviously if you are in a bad position or have some bad luck you can lose 10, 15, 20 seconds and that can decide victory or not.
“It’s a special steep finish, and if you are in a bad position or little bit bad luck at the wrong moment, and there is a gap, you can lose 15-20 seconds. In Jais, it will be difficult to take 15-20 seconds. It’s the same everyday in the race.”
Martin believes that he and his teammates have arrived in top form as a team with their objective being to contend strongly at the front.
“We worked very hard in the training camps,” he said. “The coaches have put in a lot of efforts into the tactics. We still need the luck as well.
“I think we are well motivated and going into the race with very good fitness. I hope we can make a very good performance and obviously that can lead us to a good result.
“I’m excited to race here. We came extra early on Wednesday because it’s a very important race.”
Updated: February 25, 2019 09:31 AM