Dan Martin has been confirmed as one of the three Irish riders who will compete in the Tokyo Olympic road race next month, just six days after the finish of the Tour de France in Paris the previous Sunday.
Poised for his third Olympics after also riding in London and Rio, Martin will be joined by his cousin Nicholas Roche, who is set for his fourth Olympics, and who will also ride the individual time trial in Tokyo. Completing the team and making his Olympic debut will be Eddie Dunbar, the 24 year-old from Banteer.
“It’s a real honour for me to be competing in Tokyo, it’s something that I have dreamed about,” said Dunbar. “In Banteer, where I’m from, there’s a strong Olympic heritage. Ireland’s first gold medallist, Pat O’Callaghan, was from near where I live. This makes competing all the more special.”
The Olympic road race is set the Fuji International Speedway on Saturday July 24th, the day after the opening ceremony, with the time trial then set for the following Wednesday, July 28th, starting at the same venue. Martin is the only rider from the trio currently taking part in the Tour de France, stating several weeks back his desire and intent to compete in Tokyo too. He rode well in Rio and finished 13th.
Roche made his Olympic debut in Beijing 2008. He is also one of several athletes in this year's team whose father, Stephen Roche, also competed for Team Ireland in the Olympic Games.
Qualification in road cycling is based on national rankings with the UCI, and on the back of results from Irish riders in the professional circuit, namely Sam Bennett, Ireland secured three spots for the Games in Tokyo, as well as a time trial spot.
Bennett, currently recovering from the minor knee injury which forced him to miss the Tour, had already indicated the Tokyo course wouldn’t be to his liking: the 244km course is a mountainous one that takes in the lower slopes of Mount Fuji, climbing a total of 4,865m; the time trial is 44.2km long, or two laps of the 22.1km course.
"We have one of our strongest teams ever assembled with a real opportunity to perform on terrain that we know suits our team," says Team Ireland road cycling team leader, Tommy Evans. "Nicholas, Dan and Eddie have all produced fantastic results this season, showing we can compete with the best in the world."
Team Ireland now consists of 59 officially selected athletes, with over 100 athletes spots confirmed across 19 sports. The final team announcement is scheduled for the beginning of July - before the Olympics in Tokyo run from the July 23rd July to August 8th.