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However, Martin doesn’t see Froome’s impending entrance to the team as a bad thing.
Having been brought into fledgling WorldTour outfit Israel Start-Up Nation as a stage race centerpiece at the start of this season, the Irishman feels no bitterness at the team’s signing of the leading grand tour rider of the era. Instead, he sees only opportunity.
“I think our racing styles are very different, but we can complement each other,” Martin told VeloNews. “You can look at our palmarès and the races that we’ve both won, and how we’ve won them and it’s very different – I think we can definitely work together to make this team a force to be reckoned with.”
While Martin doesn’t have the era-defining grand tour record of Froome, the Irishman has balanced his trophy cabinet to include three top-10 GC finishes at the Tour with wins in hilly monuments and grand tour stages. Martin feels that his explosive, feisty approach to racing could combine well with Froome’s more considered calculations.
When speaking to VeloNews this weekend, the 33-year-old was uncertain how the mechanics of a grand tour team including him and Froome would work in next year’s races, stating that the matter had not been discussed with team management. With Froome signed on the premise of acting as undisputed team leader, there is a question mark hanging over the role Martin would play in a team packing them both.
What Martin did know was that bringing Froome into the team would be a boon for him both personally and professionally.
“Having somebody of Chris’s level in the team, it requires everybody to step up, including myself, so it makes you improve,” he said. “It always makes you improve. The more good riders you’re surrounded by, just personally speaking, it does make you improve. So, I’m excited about that. And I’m sure I can learn a lot from him.
“I think I first met him in 2006 or something. We go way back, and we’re friends. We talked a couple of times before he’d even signed for the team, we have that type of relationship. It’s all good from my perspective.”
With Israel Start-Up Nation co-owner Sylvan Adams intent on winning the Tour de France in coming years, the rumor mill has been churning with speculation over possible new recruits to join Froome and Martin. With deep pockets and even deeper ambitions, it seems that no rider is out of the question in Adams’ bid to scale the WorldTour ladder.
Martin is confident that cash won’t be blindly splashed in the pursuit of victory.
“The way the management select the riders to sign this past year, and the team that they built, it gelled immediately,” Martin said. “I’ve got complete faith that they’re not just gonna go out and sign whoever to strengthen the team. They’re gonna be riders who fit into this family atmosphere, this ethos of riding.”
Martin joined his new team from UAE-Team Emirates at the start of this season as Israel Start-Up Nation formed its new identity from the ashes of Katusha-Alpecin and then-pro continental Israel Cycling Academy. Through a series of winter training camps, team directors Niki Sørensen and Dirk Demol fused the disparate groups into a coherent whole that started the season with stage wins and victories in one-day races. Martin is confident that management will maintain its focus on rider ‘fit’ as it looks to bolster its grand tour roster.
“The atmosphere we’ve built here, the family and philosophy of the team has been a huge development for the team,” he said. “I think that’s just as big as the news about Chris, and just as important to the team.”
No matter who Adams brings in to the team to support Froome and Martin in the 2021 Tour challenge, the Irishman anticipates that the Four-time tour winner’s presence alone will bolster the youthful squad.
“It’s a chance that the whole team to step up,” Martin said. “Chris obviously is one of the best riders of this generation, I mean, his record speaks for itself. Having someone like that around can pull you up and inspire you. I can’t wait to race with him.”