Tony Martin: “I want to transform to a classics rider”

Tony Martin once ruled time trials and tried grand tours, but says his focus is now on the cobbled classics. He will face his favorite one, Paris-Roubaix, on Sunday.

“I want to transform to a classics rider for the spring, for the classics. I’m no longer suited to the big classification races, that was the past, when sports directors pushing me in Highroad. That’s not really my area. I feel more comfortable in the classics, I think they suit me better. Also look at the surroundings. Being in this Belgian team with the attention the team gives the classics … You really feel it!”, he told Velonews.

The former Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins tried also to race cobbled classics. In 2014 and 2015, he switched focus to Paris-Roubaix and finished 9th then 18th respectively. “Like Wiggins? Yes, that’s the theory. I hope I’d be able to win someday, but there’s a process for the next few years. I think Roubaix suits me better than Flanders, but you never know. I still haven’t done these races, so you’ll have to ask me when Roubaix’s over.”

Etixx-Quick Step will bet on a strong team on Sunday. Martin will be able to play his cards if the favorites mark Etixx’s other leaders Boonen, Niki Terpstra, or Zdenek Stybar. That is the theory, as Martin says. “It’s getting better for me on the cobbles. It’s a hard process, crashing in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and try to win in the Three Days of De Panne. I get to know the mentality of the classic races, the roads, the important points where you have to be in the front. It’s good so far, but I’m still far from being on top”, he added.

Martin keeps one eye on the Rio de Janeiro Olympics and Worlds in Doha. “I’m still trying to get back to my old time trial performances. These are my two focuses.”