Martin and Roche ready to lead Irish charge in Florence Elite road race
Brammeier and Tour of Britain stage winner Bennett complete Ireland team
Dan Martin is hoping to be back to his best for tomorrow’s World Championship road race. Photograph: Getty
Dan Martin and Nicolas Roche lead the Irish charge as cycling’s road world championships moves into the final two days this weekend. The duo are regarded as possible medal contenders in tomorrow’s Elite road race, with Roche’s stage win and fifth overall in the Vuelta a España giving him confidence, and Martin’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège victory plus Tour de France stage showing he too could shine.
If the latter is in top form he will thrive on the difficult course, which will play well to both his climbing ability and his fast finish, but it remains to be seen if he is at one 100 per cent. He suffered a concussion in the Vuelta a España, pulling out of that race early on as a result, and while he rode the Tour of Britain as alternative preparation he didn’t seem to be firing on all cylinders.
Workout he needs
That race may well have given him the workout he needs, though. If things go to plan he will combine with Roche in the closing kilometres of tomorrow’s race, slugging it out with riders such as Joaquim Rodriguez (Spain), Vuelta a España winner Chris Horner, runner-up Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) and Tour de France green jersey Peter Sagan (Slovakia).
Roche has already raced at this year’s championships, finishing a solid 13th in Wednesday’s elite time trial. “I’m very happy, I’m in good condition,” he said after that, confirming that it had boosted his morale and self-belief.
As regards tomorrow’s race, he said that he didn’t want to make predications beforehand. “I don’t know what to expect. I am going out there to give it my all. It is hard to say where I will finish, it is a race that is so open,” he told The Irish Times.
“I don’t want to get carried away talking beforehand. I would rather just say that I am going in there focused, I am going to ride to give my best and hopefully a good performance will come.”
He and Martin will be backed by four-time national champion Matt Brammeier and recent Tour of Britain stage winner Sam Bennett, and together have the chance to make their mark.
Before then, national champion Mel Spath and Olivia Dillon will compete in the women’s road race this afternoon. They finished first and second in the recent An Post Ras na mBan and while the world championship is a step up in level, both riders have worked hard to be ready.
Also in action is a solid three man Irish junior team. Eddie Dunbar, Dylan Foley and Mark Downey will line out early today in the 140 kilometre event, while the women will use the same course in the afternoon.
Yesterday’s action saw Danish rider Amalie Dideriksen beat Anastasia Iakovenko (Russia) and Olena Demydova (Ukraine) to win the junior womens’ road race. In the Under-23 event, Matej Mohoric (Slovenia) soloed in three seconds ahead of the South African Louis Meintjes (South Africa) and Sondre Enger of Norway.