Superb performances as Irish riders take gold and silver at paracycling road World Cup

Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal take gold ahead of Josephine Healion and Linda Kelly

Irish riders have taken a brilliant one-two at the paracycling road World Cup in Québec, Canada, with the pairings of Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal plus Josephine Healion and Linda Kelly finishing first and second in the women’s tandem time-trial on Friday.

Paralympic champions Dunlevy and McCrystal beat Healion and Kelly by 29.71 seconds, with the Swedish duo of Louise Jannering and Cartrin Nilsson one minutes and 42 seconds back in third.

European champion Ronan Grimes also impressed with a super silver medal in the MC4 men’s time-trial. Damien Vereker and Dillon Corkery were sixth in the men’s tandem event.

Meanwhile, Archie Ryan had a superb showing against older and more experienced riders, including WorldTour professionals, on stage two of the Sazka Tour in the Czech Republic on Friday. He finished seventh on the gruelling second stage to the summit finish at Pustevny.

The Jumbo-Visma Development Team rider was just three seconds behind the stage winner Lorenzo Rota and jumps up to fifth in the overall standings.

Still only 20 years of age, the Wicklow cyclist is three seconds adrift of Rota heading into the final two stages. The mountains profile of both should suit his climbing talents.

Finally Sam Bennett’s hopes that a strong Tour of Poland performance would boost his selection chances for the Vuelta a España took a knock when he finished outside the top 10 on the final stage in Krakow.

Bennett was to the fore with 350 metres to go but faded when the sprint opened up. He crossed the line back in 19th and with a best performance of fifth on stage two, didn’t clock up the strong result he was aiming for in the event.

His chances were impacted by the retirement from the race on Thursday of his Bora-hansgrohe team-mate and lead-out man Jordi Meeus.

“The guys kept me in a good position on the circuit to save energy, and in the last two km I tried to latch on to the rear wheel of another team,” he explained.

“I then found one, but I think it was too early. When the pace picked up, it was then hard to keep up. That was a bit of a daft mistake. But I’m glad the guys were able to get me into a good position, and I’m happy with how I was able to fight for position up to that point.

“In the end it wasn’t a great result, but we know what went wrong and we can work on it for next time.”

Team sports director Rolf Aldag explained how the loss of Meeus impacted Bennett’s chances.

“It was not ideal that Jordi, the last man for Sam, was not there today because of his DNF [did not finish] yesterday. As a result, Sam had to take some more risks and invest a lot by positioning himself. Ryan [Mullen] took him up to the two km mark, and then Sam had to latch on to another rider’s wheel from there onwards.

“He was behind [UAE Team Emirates lead-out man Juan Sebastián] Molano, but he [Molano] stopped too early and then the others came from behind with momentum. A sprinter simply doesn’t have a chance in that situation without momentum. Then, of course, the sprint was over and Sam wasn’t able to get involved in the end.”

Bennett will hope that the team will still pick him for the upcoming Vuelta a España. He won three stages there in the past and while he is having a frustrating year with just one win thus far, needs to ride what would be his first Grand Tour race since taking two stages plus the green jersey in the 2020 Tour de France.

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes is a contributor to The Irish Times writing about cycling