In the absence of Julian Alaphilippe, Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet, all eyes will be on Guillaume Martin on the French side, during the Criterium du Dauphiné which starts this Sunday in Issoire, near Clermont-Ferrand. Third in the last edition, the Normand will target the general, even if facing him the Ineos armada of Geraint Thomas and Richard Carapaz will be difficult to foil.
Guillaume Martin, what will be your ambitions on this Critérium du Dauphiné?
On the Tour de France, I will rather target the stages in view of the route this year. But on this Dauphiné, it will be more the general. I finished 3rd last year, it’s true without a stopwatch and with more mountains, but it’s a race that suits me well and on which I am keen to achieve a good overall ranking. I do not set myself a specific goal but I do not forbid myself anything. I am in good condition.
The stopwatch, with 16.5 km during the 4th stage, is it really your weak point?
For me, that’s the crippling point, I’m going to waste time on (Geraint) Thomas or (Richie) Porte, but hey on the last day there will be a way to turn things around with the arrival in Les Gets. It will be played until Sunday. Afterwards, I worked on the stopwatch, I worked a lot on the position on the stopwatch bike and at the national velodrome of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines. I try on this point to put all the chances on my side.
At what level do you stand compared to your opponents, Thomas, Carapaz, Porte, Quintana, Lopez …?
I’ll tell you in a few days but I don’t have an inferiority complex. I have beaten them all individually in the past. So I am able to beat them. But there are some very impressive collective forces. I hope that will not put a stop to the race, as we have sometimes seen in recent years. I will in any case sell my skin dearly.
And compared to last year?
It’s hard to compare. Last year, it was a bit special, we had a long time to prepare for the Covid cut. There, I try to be on a ridge line because until the Vuelta, via the Tour and the Olympics, it will be long. And I’m going to have to keep my fitness level for a while. I am well. The start of the season was a bit complicated. I was very well in Paris-Nice with very little training. The same on the Ardennes, but it was not seen too much because of positioning concerns, placement, consequence of my fall (in Sierra Nevada during a training camp in January) and my knee problems. I had a kind of psychological blockage going downhill. There, I made a reset with the cut since the end of April and the altitude training course, above Nice. I worked on the descents and I have the feeling that I have become a normal runner again from that point of view.