Ryan Mullen happy with form after long season

Under-23 star signs for Sean Kelly as Sam Bennett leaves

Sam Bennett who has signed with the NetApp Endura squad.

Sam Bennett who has signed with the NetApp Endura squad.

Fri, Oct 25, 2013, 01:00

Winner last week of the Under-23 event at the Chrono des Nations time trial, young Irishman Ryan Mullen has spoken about the significance of that victory plus his move next season to the An Post Chainreaction Sean Kelly team in Belgium.

Mullen has had a superb first season in the under-23 ranks, taking bronze medals in the scratch race and the individual pursuit at the under-23 European track championships in July and then placing seventh against older competitors in last month’s world championship under-23 time trial.

Given that he can expect to naturally grow stronger over the next few seasons, he has realistic hopes of taking European or world under-23 titles in the sport, then going on to a pro career. Winning the Chrono des Nationals race by over a minute is further proof of that.

“I’m really happy with the win,” he told The Irish Times. “I went there last year as a junior and won then as well, so I came to the race with aspirations of making the podium, and taking the win if I was on a good enough day.

“It’s been a really long season for me with changing from road to track and back again in the summer and it’s starting to catch up on me. So I was really surprised to have ridden as well as I did.” Mullen has long been on the radar of the An Post Chainreaction Sean Kelly team and it was of little surprise when the Irish-sponsored, Belgium-based squad announced on Monday that he would be joining in 2014. The Briton Owain Doull has also been confirmed, five months after he won the points classification in the An Post Rás.

“I think we have signed two of the best young talents around in Ryan Mullen and Owain Doull,” stated the team’s general manager Kurt Bogaerts. “I am really looking forward to working with them both and I think they will be great additions to our squad for next year.”

Considering retirement
Mullen’s signing comes after two other Irishmen, Sam Bennett and Ronan McLaughlin, were confirmed as leaving the team. McLaughlin is considering retirement while Tour of Britain stage winner Bennett has signed with the NetApp Endura squad. He and the team hope to secure a wildcard invitation to the Giro d’Italia, where he could join up to four other Irish riders in the race.

Those others are Nicolas Roche (Team Saxo Tinkoff), Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp), Philip Deignan (Sky) and Martyn Irvine (UnitedHealthcare), with the latter team also chasing a wildcard.

Irvine showed he is on the way back after a leg fracture earlier this year when he took a bronze medal in the European championship omnium event last weekend.