/ Cycling

Dan Martin impressing Garmin-Sharp chiefs ahead of Tour de France

Updated: Tuesday, 25 Jun 2013 21:58 | Comments

Birmingham-born Dan Martin has represented Ireland since 2006
Birmingham-born Dan Martin has represented Ireland since 2006

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Garmin-Sharp are keeping the peloton guessing ahead of the Tour de France, but it could be that Ireland’s Dan Martin, rather than a Grand Tour winner, is the nominated leader.

Jonathan Vaughters has selected the Garmin-Sharp team for the Tour, which begins in Corsica on Saturday, but the line-up will not be revealed until later this week.

Martin is set to be given a prominent role, ahead of 2012 Giro d'Italia champion Ryder Hesjedal, who struggled in defence of his title in May, while a Twitter conversation between Vaughters and David Millar led some to suggest the British veteran has been left out of the nine-man group.

Charly Wegelius, who rode the Tour three times and is now a sports director for Garmin-Sharp, is confident in Martin's ability.

The 26-year-old won classic Liege-Bastogne-Liege earlier this year and has been backed by his uncle, Stephen Roche, to perform well en route to Paris on 21 July.

"Dan can do everything you need to do to perform in stage races," Wegelius said.

"(But) three-week races are a whole different kettle of fish.

"He's got massive potential and it's up to him now to explore that potential - I don't think anybody really knows how far he can go yet. He's in quite a luxurious position.

"Dan had a chance to taste the Tour de France for the first time last year and I think that impact for him will put him in good stead for the future.

"The way he's ridden over the spring has really taken him to a whole different level as a rider.

"That potential has always been there, but an athlete goes to another level when they prove to themselves that in a competition environment that they can do it. That level of self-confidence can really help.

"For Dan, he can live with the knowledge he's won big races already.

"Physically he's coming into a good stage in his career and mentally he's in a really good place at the moment."

"The way he's ridden over the spring has really taken him to a whole different level as a rider" - Charly Wegelius

If Millar misses out on selection, it would be a major surprise.

The 36-year-old Scot, one of five Britons to have worn the race leader's yellow jersey, won a stage of the Tour in 2012.

Wegelius would not comment on the selection, but believes Millar is capable of continuing at the top for some time to come.

"Physically he's still in really good shape, but as you get older and your life changes things can start to look a bit different," Wegelius said.

"If he wanted to I think he could continue for a long time."

Wegelius, who was speaking to publicise his book 'Domestique', fits the Garmin-Sharp persona of reformed character.

The 35-year-old achieved notoriety for his performance at the 2005 Road World Championships.

After appearing to help Italy, Wegelius, who rode for an Italian pro team, never raced for Britain again.

"When I look back on Madrid I look back on it with a lot of regret," Wegelius said.

"Clearly that was the day in my career where I made the biggest mistake.

"I underestimated and didn't respect the strength of feelings that the public have in sports events where national teams are involved.

"I did make a mistake. But I do feel sad about how far reaching the consequences of that were for the rest of my career. I think that wasn't necessary."

It meant Wegelius, who performed a selfless team role throughout his career, missed out on future World Championships and Olympics.

He added: "Even if they would've taken me to the worlds and the Olympics, I'd never have won a medal. If I was robbed, let's say it was a petty crime.

"On a personal level it's disappointing and it's like a scab that was left on the face of my career and I'm quite aware that they were my own actions that led to it, but I'm left a bit puzzled when I look at how far reaching the consequences of that were."

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