Tour de France debut ‘not out of the question’ for recovering Eddie Dunbar

Jayco AlUla sporting director says options are open for Irish rider with Vuelta a España also in the mix

Eddie Dunbar could ride in his first Tour de France as part of a new summer schedule following his early exit from the Giro d'Italia. Photograph: Luc Claessen/Getty Images

Struck by bad luck in the Giro d’Italia which saw him withdraw after a crash, Eddie Dunbar could potentially ride the Tour de France for the first time this year in a revised race programme.

Matt White, lead sporting director with the Jayco AlUla squad, said this week that a Tour debut could possibly be on the cards, even if he would personally rather Dunbar ride the Vuelta a España.

“We spoke about it this morning. The Tour is not totally out of the question, but we’ve got climbers for the Tour. Look, he’s got a preparation now that would probably allow it. But we have to wait and see.

“Off the top of my head, I’d probably like to see him at the Vuelta first and ride GC [general classification] again. The idea was to ride the Vuelta anyway, but what we did was going to depend on what we did here in the Giro.


“But now with the Giro out, I would like to see him focus on being at his best for the Vuelta and have another crack at the top 10 there.”

A decision will be made by the team closer to the Tour start on June 29th.

Dunbar is in his second year with the Australian squad and finished a superb seventh overall in last year’s Giro. It was his first time leading a team in a three-week race. He returned to the Giro this year aiming to equal or better that performance, but crashed on Sunday’s second stage and incurred a deep gash to his knee. He withdrew on Monday morning.

The fall was his eighth in 16 months. White said that number of crashes wasn’t down to anything Dunbar was doing wrong.

“It is just bad luck. The crash he had in the UAE Tour ... there was a crash in front of him and he had stopped and clipped out [of the pedals]. Then someone ran into him from behind. It is just bad luck.

“It’s just a shame ... hopefully that’s it, enough’s enough, and he can just focus on being the best rider he can be rather than chasing his tail and coming back from injury. He certainly hasn’t had the luck of the Irish, has he?”

In other news, the organisers of the Rás Tailteann have announced increased funding this year from Sport Ireland, Cycling Ireland and the Department of Sport. Race director Ger Campbell said the race organisers Cairde Rás Tailteann are ‘incredibly thankful for the support’ and welcomed a new parity of funding for September’s Rás na mBan too.

Newly confirmed for this year’s Rás are two further overseas teams. North of England-based Moonglu Race Team prioritise the development of young riders plus a carbon- and environmentally-friendly approach.

Also set to make its Rás debut is Team 05-03, the feeder team to the most successful UCI Continental-level British team of 2023, Saint Piran.

This year’s race begins in Tullamore on Wednesday, May 22nd and finishes on Sunday, May 26th in Bective, Co Meath.

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes

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