Ireland’s junior riders got their European Championships off to a solid start on Wednesday, with 10th place finishes in both the junior women’s and junior men’s time trial events in the Netherlands.
Three other riders went close to their own top 10 finishes, making it an encouraging first day for the team.
Lucy Benezet Minns was the best-placed finisher of three Irish entrants in the junior women’s TT, netting 10th place with a time 1:55 off the winner Federica Venturelli of Italy. Áine Doherty was 33rd and Ireland team debutant Julia Murphy was 41st.
The junior men’s race was won by the Danish rider Albert Withen Philipsen, who was a full 47 seconds clear of the next best rider.
Philipsen’s time was 1:15 faster than Adam Rafferty, who placed 10th. He was 26 seconds off third place. Liam O’Brien placed 28th and Patrick Casey was 38th.
Last month Benezet Minns and Rafferty were fourth and eighth respectively at the World Championships, underlining their promise. The flat Dutch course didn’t play to their strengths as much as the tougher route in Glasgow.
Meanwhile, Rafferty’s older brother Darren placed 12th in the under-23 men’s time trial, one place ahead of Dean Harvey in 13th.
The race was won by the Belgian Alec Segaert, who dominated the 20.6km test in finishing 38 seconds ahead of the runner-up Carl-Frederik Bévort of Denmark.
Rafferty was seventh in both intermediate splits but dropped back in the final third of the race, with winds and the flat terrain favouring bigger riders. His finishing time was 1:15 off that of Segaert and 23 seconds behind third place. Harvey was five seconds behind Rafferty.
Kelly Murphy finished 13th in the elite women’s time trial. The national champion was 1:36 off the gold medal time of defending champion Marlen Reusser (Swttizerland) and 52 seconds off bronze.
Ryan Mullen completed the Irish action on day one. He went in the elite men’s contest, where he was 17th, 1:48 behind the winner Josh Tarling of Britain.
The Irish riders are next in action in the under-23 road races on Friday. Double European track champion Lara Gillespie will be joined by sisters Caoimhe and Aoife O’Brien in the women’s event, while Dean Harvey, Darren Rafferty, Kevin McCambridge, Odhrán Doogan and Jamie Meehan are the selection for the men’s road race.
Meanwhile, Ben Healy (EF Education EasyPost) finished in a reduced main bunch at the end of stage one of the Skoda Tour Luxembourg, crossing the line in the same time as the winner Corbin Strong (Israel-Premier Tech). Young Irish rider Archie Ryan (Jumbo-Visma) was in a group slightly gapped by this bunch, finishing 19 seconds back.
The 2.Pro-ranked race continues on Thursday with a lumpy stage to Mamer.