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Tour de France

Martin questions cat and mouse game on Arcalis

"It's pretty strange tactics," says Dan Martin of the cat and mouse game played by Nairo Quintana and Chris Froome in stage 9

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ARCALIS, Andorra (VN) — Dan Martin (Etixx – Quick-Step) promises to hold nothing back in the 2016 Tour de France. He says that if he has the power then he will attack to win a stage or the race overall.

The Irishman moved from fourth to third overall Sunday in the rain-soaked finish to Arcalis, in the Principality of Andorra. He sits third at 19 seconds behind race leader Chris Froome (Sky) and three seconds behind second Adam Yates (Orica – BikeExchange).

Immediately over the finish line, he sought shelter from the downpour under NBC television’s mobile studio. Later, he climbed inside, where he warmed down and talked.

“Maybe I got carried away, just attacking so much, but I just enjoyed racing,” Martin said.

“That is what this team reminded me of, I’m an aggressive rider and they prefer me to go down fighting than just to get dropped. It’s just instinct now. I have the confidence now that if I’m in the red then I know that everyone else is in the red as well.”

The ninth stage Sunday began hot and took a turn for the worse with rain showers and hail on the climb to the Arcalis ski station. Martin said that he was going so hard that the shower did not affect him.

He bases himself in Andorra, where his fiancée and parents watched him pass at the base of the final 10.1-kilometer climb to Arcalis. Sky looked in control with its strength in numbers, but at the top, Martin went head-to-head with Chris Froome, Adam Yates, Nairo Quintana (Movistar), and Richie Porte (BMC Racing).

“I was looking at making time on the guys who were dropped. I knew that if we didn’t ride that Richie Porte had the same kind of idea, but Nairo and Chris were kind of playing cat and mouse. Then they chase us down and look at each other. It’s pretty strange tactics. I don’t know when Nairo will make a move, he hasn’t made a move in a few days now.”

Martin raced the last eight years in the Garmin/Cannondale organization (the team now known as Cannondale – Drapac) before he joined Etixx. This spring, he said that he “just kind of stalled a little bit” with Cannondale. The American team helped him win the 2013 Liège-Bastogne-Liège, 2014 Il Lombardia, a stage in last year’s Tour, and other races.

Etixx helped him make the next step. This spring, he won a stage in the Volta a la Valenciana and the Vuelta a Catalunya. In the Critérium du Dauphiné, he placed in the top five in four stages and took home third overall.

“The team really believes in me and supports me. You saw Marcel Kittel killing himself to put me at the base of the category-two climb in position. It sums up this team spirit,” Martin added.

“Next? Just to continue with what I’m doing. Everyone expects me to blow up one day, maybe I will. It doesn’t really matter if I do, I’ve had a great race.”

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