Eddie Dunbar has under-23 medal in his sights in Austria
Ben Healy finishes 25th in junior road race where future star Evenepoel takes double victory
Remco Evenepoel of Belgium leads the pack of riders during the Men’s Junior Road Race of the UCI Road Cycling World Championships in Innsbruck, Austria. Photograph: Christian Bruna/EPA
Ben Healy was the best-placed Irish competitor on day five of the world road championships in Innsbruck, Austria, netting a solid 25th place in the junior men’s road race. The event was dominated by Belgian rider Remco Evenepoel, who shrugged off an early crash to solo to victory. He became the first-ever junior rider to take the time trial/road race double, thus further underlining a spectacular talent.
Evenepoel finished one minute, 25 seconds ahead of Germany’s Marius Mayrhofer, with Alessandro Fancellu (Italy) a further 13 seconds behind in third. Healy was 10 minutes, 47 seconds back, with fellow Irish men Breandán Flannagan and Archie Ryan 58th and 80th respectively.
Maeve Gallagher was solid in the junior women’s road race, finishing 26th. Best in the event was the Austrian Laura Stigger, who outsprinted Marie Le Net (France) and Simone Boilard (Canada) to take gold. Gallagher was just under five minutes back, while Lara Gillespie took 54th.
Racing continues on Friday with the under-23 men’s road race. Eddie Dunbar leads the Irish team and is arguably the country’s best chance of a medal at the worlds; he has been in superb form of late, and is regarded as one of the best riders in the world in that age category.
His Aqua Blue Sport team collapsed in recent weeks but Dunbar switched to Team Sky, riding a number of Italian classics in preparation for the worlds. He helped new team-mate Gianni Moscon to victory in two of those and also gained important confidence in the build-up to his big end-of-season goal.
Dunbar was second on a stage and eighth overall in the recent Tour de l’Avenir, then more recently took eighth in the Memorial Marco Pantani. He will be joined by Michael O’Loughlin, Daire Feeley and Darragh O’Mahony in the mountainous 179.9km race on Friday. Conn McDunphy is a late replacement for Matt Teggart on the squad.
The Irish campaign will then continue on Saturday when Alice Sharpe rides the 156.2km Elite road race for women.
The final riders in action will be Dan Martin, Conor Dunne, Ryan Mullen and Nicolas Roche. They will contest the 258.5km Elite men’s event on Sunday.
The course is one which seems tailor-made for Martin, but he withdrew early from the Vuelta a España as his wife was in the final weeks of pregnancy with twins. His form is consequently a little uncertain heading into the worlds.
World road championships, Innsbruck, Austria:
Junior men’s road race: 1. R Evenepoel (Belgium) 132.4km in 3 hours 3 mins 49 secs; 2. M Mayrhofer (Germany) at 1 min 25 secs; 3. A Fancellu (Italy) at 1 min 38 secs; 4. A Balmer (Switzerland) same time; 5. F Wandahl (Denmark) at 3 mins 20 secs; 6. G Benedetti (Italy) same time
Other: 25. B Healy (Ireland) at 10 mins 47 secs; 58. B Flannagan (Ireland) at 18 mins 45 secs; 80. A Ryan (Ireland) at 24 mins 27 secs; DNF: A Doherty (Ireland)
Junior women’s road race: 1. L Stigger (Austria) 71.7km in 1 hour 56 mins 26 secs; 2. M Le Net (France); 3. S Boilard (Canada); 4. B Malcotti (Italy) all same time; 5. J Wiel (France) at 14 secs; 6. V Guazzini (Italy) same time
Other: 26. M Gallagher (Ireland) at 4 mins 56 secs; 54. L Gillespie (Ireland) at 5 mins 47 secs