• Dan Martin, pictured here after the brutal stage 9 of the 2017 Tour de France, is eyeing a realistic podium place in Paris (Getty)Source: Getty
Dan Martin (QuickStep Floors) is an understated shot at the Tour de France podium that defending champion Chris Froome is beginning to scrutinise as the race readies for the Pyrenees.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
13 Jul 2017 - 7:09 AM  UPDATED 13 Jul 2017 - 7:11 AM

Martin is still sore after being collected by Richie Porte (BMC) on a descent into Chambery last week, but was part of star teammate Marcel Kittel’s fifth stage win in Pau on Wednesday.

The 30-year-old has operated away from the spotlight and without the aid of eight men, as Froome (Sky) and other title contenders have, since the Grand Depart and it suits him fine.

“I don’t think he would perform better with eight riders around him. He does his own stuff, he is an amazing cyclist,” sports director Brian Holm said.

“We look after him on the flat also, it’s not because we forget him but he’s not a loud guy and he looks after himself.

“Imagine today [stage 11] if everything blew in the crosswind, with QuickStep he’s probably in safe hands.”

High-five for Kittel as he wins again
Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors) again came from a long way back to claim another emphatic victory in Stage 11 of the Tour de France.

Martin has been able to match the billed climbers of this Tour and even in the face of bad luck has held steady on the overall standings where he is currently sixth overall – one minute and 44 seconds in arrears of Froome.

“From the start, I was quite sure he could podium. He was flying this year,” Holm said. “Unfortunately, the crash didn’t make it easy but we keep on trying.”

Martin has developed a trademark tenacity that he has married with consistency this season, finishing third at the Criterium du Dauphine as well as Paris-Nice and second at both Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

His attacks are also well-timed. He became the first Irishman to podium at the Dauphine last year after a surge inside the final metres of the last stage pushed him up to third on the overall.

“I wouldn’t call him a lone ranger,” Holm said. “I would describe him a little bit like Sean Kelly, he’s tough like Sean Kelly, and polite as Stephen Roche. A typical, humble, Irishman. He’s a big-time superstar although doesn’t act like that.”

Froome has placed a double emphasis on stage 12, which is over 200km and features six categorised climbs - five within the final 100km.

He has one eye especially to Fabio Aru (Astana), who is currently second overall and just 18 seconds adrift of the Briton.

“The number one priority is not to allow some guys to come back into the GC game and of course, for me personally, to keep a close eye on Aru,” Froome said.

“I’ll stick to him like glue.”

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