Road to Rio

'I'm definitely starting as one of the favourites and I'll be marked in that way'

Ireland’s Dan Martin has his sights set on glory in the Olympic cycling road race this Saturday. / YouTube

– Sinéad O’Carroll reports from Rio de Janeiro

IRELAND’S MAIN CYCLING hope in Rio sees his tired legs from the Tour de France as an advantage, rather than another hill to climb, as he gets ready for the Olympics Road Race in five days’ time.

Noting himself as one of the favourites going into Saturday’s event, Dan Martin told The42 from the Athletes’ Village in Barra de Tijuca that the Tour was the “ideal preparation” for the Games.

“I’ve had the best run-in to the race possible. The Tour de France, obviously, I’m feeling a bit tired from… I’ve got really heavy legs from that and racing again on Saturday. It’s the ideal preparation for me to be in the best condition possible for our race this coming Saturday.”

He is also “nearly sure” that the competitor on top of the podium on Saturday will have ridden the Tour, something he likens to a three-week training camp.

It’s a training feeling you can’t replicate at home and, you know, it gives you that strength that you need on Saturday.

No rest

Martin landed in the host city of Rio on Sunday evening after coming in 12th at the one-day San Sebastian Classic on Saturday.

Would he not have preferred the weekend off?

Rest, he says, is the worst thing he could do right now.

“Your body just gets used to riding fast basically… If the Tour was four weeks long, your body could keep doing it. It’s an incredible thing, your body.

“It’s just a matter of not resting. If you finish the Tour and rest, you won’t have a chance. It’s the most difficult thing psychologically to do… But you just need to keep pushing yourself and training hard and the strength will be there to win.”

Martin wears that favourites’ tag well.

He knows he has learned a lot from his experience at London four years ago – everything from how Team GB lost control of what was labelled their race, down to appreciating that the chairs in the Village are the same.

Mark Cavendish’s failure to secure a medal in 2012 is a warning about how the Olympics is a different field – even though the riders are familiar.

“It’s a really difficult race to read. On paper, looking at the course, if it was a normal race with normal tactics, I’d be really confident. We saw in London, Team GB thought they had it done but the race got completely out of control. It will be the same on Saturday for sure with small teams and everybody on that start line wants to win a medal.

“It’s impossible to make guys give up their chance of winning a medal for each other. It’s the one race of the year we get to race for our country and race for ourselves. It’s important to have that.”

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