ROAD CYCLING: We caught up with Paul Martens before the last stage of Tour of Norway. The LottoNL Jumbo-rider has shown aspiring form, grabbing his first podium spot of the season, and becoming 11th overall.
“I really like it in Norway, it’s my second time here, but as everyone else, I find it a bit cold” said the 32-year-old rider from Rostock. 163 km with light rain and 12 degrees was on the menu for the peloton, on the fifth stage from Drøbak to Sarpsborg.
“I’ve felt pretty good, but the form is not on top at the moment. I was a bit tired after the classics in April, and have trained well since then. So hopefully it will turn out even better soon”, said Martens.
2016 marks the sixth year of the 2.HC race Tour of Norway. Three World tour teams are visiting the race this year, LottoNL Jumbo, Lotto Soudal og Dimension Data. The course has been challenging, and could have suited an in-form Paul Martens.
“The yellow jersey and the general classification was never a goal for me here. I climbed fair enough on the second stage, and finished not far behind the second group, but I never really went for it” said Martens. The second stage saw the riders climb to 1200 metres, where Pieter Weening (Roompot Oranje Peloton) won impressively.
Giro d’Italia was not an option for Martens this year, but he was very eager to talk about his teammate Steven Kruiswijk, who strongly clinched la maglia rosa on the 14th stage in Italy. “It was impressive by Steven. We didn’t get to see it, since we were out racing, but we got the message in the peloton. It gave us great motivation”.
Martens doesn’t doubt Kruijswijk’s abilities, and his chances of keeping the pink jersey all the way to Turin. “Last year he was very strong in the third week of the Giro, which is very promising. He will only get better ”.
Criterium du Dauphiné and Tour de France
Tour of Norway is part of Martens build up, before more important races in June and July. “I will do the Dauphiné in June, and then hopefully Tour de France in July. I’m not sure if I get to go there, but I will do my best” said Martens modestly. He was part of the Tour de France-team last year, and is recognized as one of the best road captains in the team. A spot in the LottoNL Jumbo line-up should be within reach for the 32-year-old puncheur from Rostock.
The last stage in Tour of Norway ended with a win for Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data). Paul Martens became 16th in the sprint in Sarpsborg. Pieter Weening won overall.