Ireland’s Dan Martin set to miss first of three Ardennes Classics

Posted on: April 20th, 2019
Dan Martin is facing into one of the biggest weeks of his season with his form apparently on the up. He won Liège-Bastogne-Liège back in 2013, above. Could he do it again next Sunday?

Having ridden poorly, by his own standards, in the Ardennes classics last year Dan Martin has opted to skip the first of three races in the series; Amstel Gold.

He will sit out that race tomorrow in favour of full focus on La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday and Liège-Bastogne-Liège next weekend.

Martin is a potential winner of both races, though there are a number of favourites going very well at present.

He has ridden Amstel Gold seven times and finished it just twice. While the race is a very hard classic, it is not difficult in the way that suits Dan Martin.

There is constant climbing on the course but not of the kind that eliminates the bigger riders.

While the Irishman is the undisputed team leader for next week’s two races, given his record in them, the UAE Team Emirates line-up in his absence for Amstel Gold is a very strong one.

Rui Costa, Sergio Henao, Diego Ulissi and 20-year-old Tadej Pogačar could achieve a result between them.

They are supported tomorrow by Manuele Mori, Simone Petilli and Edward Ravasi. Pogačar has already excelled this year in winning Volta ao Algarve.

And while the team insists the week ahead is a learning experience for the neo pro, his performance tomorrow will be watched closely by many.

But come next Wednesday and next Sunday it will be all about Dan Martin. He has had a slightly quieter start to the season than in recent years.

But rising up the standings to 2nd overall on the final stage of the recent Tour of the Basque Country suggests he’s coming good at exactly the right time.

He will go into the next week’s races as a proven performer in both but perhaps under the radar considering some of the other favourites have been more prolific of late.

Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep), for example, could win either on La Flèche Wallonne or Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

The Frenchman has eight wins to his name already this year including Milan-Sanremo and Strade Bianchi.

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is yet to hit the heights but may well do in the Ardennes having won La Flèche Wallonne five times and Liège-Bastogne-Liège four times.

Dan Martin has ridden extremely well in the Ardennes classics during his career; winning Liège-Bastogne-Liège six years ago.

He was 2nd in 2017 and 5th in 2012. In 2014 he looked set to win when he crashed on the final corner.

And in La Flèche Wallonne he has been in the top six five times, though he’s yet to win it.

Two years ago he was 2nd in both Liège–Bastogne–Liège and La Flèche Wallonne; beaten in both by Valverde.