Eddie Dunbar can target progress in Tour of Guangxi in China
Irisg pro is 20 seconds behind the overall leader Fabio Jakobsen of QuickStep Floors
Eddie Dunbar is is competing in the Tour of Guangxi with Team Sky. Photograph: Inpho
Irish pro Eddie Dunbar has a chance to jump up the general classification in the Tour of Guangxi in China on Friday, with the race moving into tougher terrain. The 22-year-old has ridden solidly on the opening three stages, rolling in as part of the main bunch in 30th, 56th and 56th again.
He will start Friday’s stage 20 seconds behind the overall leader Fabio Jakobsen (QuickStep Floors) who, along with the other riders currently high up in the general classification, is likely to lose time. Stage four takes the riders 152.2 kilometres to Mashan Nongla and concludes with a three kilometre climb.
Dunbar may well be required to ride for team-mate Gianni Moscon, but has sufficient form and ability to post a strong result.
Friday’s stage is then followed by a hilly 212.2 kilometre leg to Guilin on Saturday and then another testing stage to the same location on Sunday.
Also in the WorldTour event is Ryan Mullen. He was 23rd on Thursday’s stage and sits 62nd overall, but is likely to lose time over the tougher terrain. He is a time trial specialist who prefers flatter roads.
Dunbar is competing in the event with Team Sky. He was due to move to the British team next year but was able to transfer early after his previous squad, the Irish Aqua Blue Sport outfit, collapsed at the end of August. That freed him from the obligations of his contract and enabled him to gain important WorldTour experience prior to a full season at that level in 2019.
Dunbar and Mullen are amongst the last of the Irish riders still competing at this point in the year. Many others have already finished up for the off season, although Nicolas Roche is still in action and will ride the Japan Cup road race on Sunday.
He finished 10th overall in last week’s Presidential Tour of Turkey. Sam Bennett was also riding strongly there, taking three stages plus the points classification. His victory on the final stage was particularly impressive, with the Carrick-on-Suir rider attacking more than a kilometre from the end of the stage to Istanbul and soloing in six seconds ahead of the main bunch.
While the win was smaller in stature to his three stage victories in the Giro d’Italia earlier this year, Bennett said it was arguably his most satisfying win to date. Sprinters tend to triumph in big bunch gallops, but very rarely win alone.
In gambling on that tactic and having the strength to pull it off, Bennett proved yet again that he is more than just a sprinter.