Irish rider Dan Martin is to join UAE Team Emirates on a two-year contract, having spent the past two seasons with Quick Step Floors.
The 30-year-old, who was born in Birmingham and is now based in Andorra, says he believes the switch will help him reach his goals as he enters what, for rider targeting the general classification at Grand Tours, are the prime years of his career.
He finished sixth in the Tour de France last month despite fracturing two vertebrae when he was unable to avoid crashing into Richie Porte after the BMC Racing rider misjudged a corner on a descent, the Australian sustaining injuries that ended his race.
Martin may well have finished in a higher position overall had he not lost time as a result of that crash.
A stage winner at the Tour de France and the Vuelta, he is also a past winner of the Tour of Catalonia and has triumphed in two Monuments, Liège–Bastogne–Liège in 2013 – the following year, he crashed on the final corner when poised to win it for the second time – and in 2014, he won Il Lombardia.
Talking about his decision to join UAE Team Emirates, he said: “The opportunity to join an ambitious group backed by globally recognised brands and use my experience to create a team capable of challenging the best in the world was one that I couldn’t refuse.
“UAE Team Emirates share my vision, my attention to detail and my passion for the sport, and as I enter into the most important years of my career, they offer me the best platform possible to reach my potential and fulfil my sporting goals.
“To race with such a talented roster under the guidance of a highly motivated and experienced staff is incredibly exciting but I also realise this is more than a team as we work with our partners to not only promote the sport I love but a healthy lifestyle and two wheels on a global scale.”
Born in Birmingham, Martin’s family is steeped in cycling. His father, Neil, is a former pro and his mother, Maria, is the sister of Stephen Roche, who in 1987 won the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and UCI Road World Championship.
Martin’s cousin is the BMC Racing rider, Nicolas Roche, and before turning pro both rode – though at different times – for the French amateur team, Vélo-Club La Pomme Marseille.
He was British under-18 road champion in 2005 but the following year decided to ride under an Irish licence, which he has done ever since, the switch mainly prompted by British Cycling’s track focus for developing young riders at the time.
He joined Quick Step Floors for the 2016 season after almost a decade with the Slipstream Sports-owned team now racing as Cannondale-Drapac.
Martin’s wife, Jess, competed in the 10,000 metres for Team GB at the Rio Olympics and announced her retirement from athletics earlier this month after racing at the world championships in London.
She said: “I don’t feel that I’m doing the sport justice for myself and my family.
“My husband is a professional cyclist and I feel that now I’m going to be the best wife and the best supporter I can be to him and I’m very excited for so many things we have in our future together.
“I’m feeling a little bit tired and a little bit sorry for myself but I’ll be fine,” she added.
UAE Team Emirates also announced today that it has signed the Australian rider Rory Sutherland from Movistar, and had previously announced that it had agreed terms with Katusha-Alpecin’s Alexander Kristoff.
Team manager Carlo Saronni said: “We’re moving with the perspective of bringing quality athletes on to the team, athletes with the right motivations to best represent the spirit of our project.
“Daniel Martin is capable of excelling both in the in-line races as well as the major tours; we will be able to create the conditions that will allow him to express himself at his best and, with this in mind, we have also secured ourselves the performance of an experienced pacer like Sutherland.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.