Irish riders pick up silver and bronze at paracycling worlds

Colin Lynch and Eoghan Clifford get Ireland’s campaign in Italy off to winning start

Irish riders got their campaign off to a superb start on day one of the 2016 UCI Paracycling World Championships on Thursday, with two medals being secured.

Former paracycling world champion Colin Lynch was second-quickest in the qualification round of the C2 individual pursuit and was up against Canada's Tristen Chernove in the finals. He came away with a silver medal.

Form held true

Eoghan Clifford

was also in action in the C3 pursuit and qualified as third-quickest. That form held true in the medal ride-off, where he defeated Japan’s

Masaki Fujita

for bronze.

In all six Irish riders are competing at the worlds in Montichiari, Italy.

The other four who will also race between Friday and Sunday are the tandem pairings of Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal plus Peter Ryan and Sean Hahessy.

Elsewhere, Eddie Dunbar put in a strong showing on day one of the Volta ao Alentejo in Portugal. Dunbar was clear alone for 80 kilometres and while he was eventually hauled back, impressed many with his aggression and form.

Meanwhile on Saturday one of the most prestigious races in world cycling takes place when many of the top Classics riders slug it out in Milan-Sanremo. Sam Bennett said earlier this year that he hoped to be a contender and will be racing for the Bora-Argon 18 squad.

Bennett's put in a big winter and started well this season, but had a quiet showing in Tirreno-Adriatico. This has put him off the radar in terms of the tipped favourites, but his coach Neal Henderson isn't ruling out a good ride.

“Tirreno’s results weren’t an ideal lead-up for Sam, but he made it to the end and that racing load in the legs could be a positive with regards to Milan-Sanremo,” said yesterday. “In terms of the big picture, every race is an opportunity . . . and Saturday will be no different for Sam.

“It is of course always easier to have better confidence going into a race with recent good results. While Tirreno didn’t provide that, there’s sometimes a benefit of coming in without any extra pressure or expectation.”

Underdog status

Henderson refers to the underdog status Bennett had prior to turning pro.

“The best part of racing is that anything can happen, just like at the Tour of Britain a couple of years ago.”

Milan-Sanremo is 291 kilometres in length and is the longest of the Classics. It generally comes down to a reduced bunch sprint.

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes

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