Irish riders set for UCI world championships road race campaign

Ciara Doogan and Eddie Dunbar first in to action in Richmond, Virginia

 Conor Dunne and Sam Bennett compete in the elite men’s road race in Virginia, USA. Photograph: Inpho

Conor Dunne and Sam Bennett compete in the elite men’s road race in Virginia, USA. Photograph: Inpho

 

After the time-trial events earlier this week, the Irish competitors in the UCI road world championships will begin their road race campaign on Friday.

First off is the women’s junior road race entrant Ciara Doogan, who will begin her event at 3pm local time in Richmond, Virginia. She will be followed by Eddie Dunbar, who is Ireland’s sole entrant in the men’s under-23 road race. This starts just over two and a half hours later.

Dunbar has impressed greatly in his first season as an under 23 rider, riding strongly in a range of events with his NFTO team in Britain and also placing second against far older competitors in the Irish Elite national road race championships.

Doogan has also shown promise. She was 28th in the junior women’s time trial on Monday.

Dunbar competed in his own race against the clock, going in the under 23 event. He was 38th there, further back than he hoped. Best of the Irish was last year’s runner-up Ryan Mullen, who had to be satisfied with 11th this time around.

The championships continue Saturday with the road races for junior men and elite women. Michael O’Loughlin, Simon Tuomey, Adam Stenson, Darragh O’Mahony and Jake Gray will compete in the latter.

O’Loughlin and Tuomey were 38th and 43rd respectively in the junior time trial on Tuesday, with O’Loughlin losing any chance of a high performance when he experienced gear mech problems and was restricted to his small chainring.

Also in action Saturday will be Olivia Dillon and Fiona Meade, who will contest the elite women’s road race.

The championships will then conclude on Sunday with the elite men’s road race. Sam Bennett and Conor Dunne will represent the country’s ambitions there, with Bennett hoping that the race will come down to a sprint finish and that he is in the mix.

Dunne showed strong form in the recent Tour of Britain but is likely to play a support role for Bennett, who has much more experience at this level.

The Carrick-on-Suir rider has clocked up four wins in his second pro season and competed in his first Tour de France in July. Providing he has fully recovered, the French race will have given him a greater endurance base for the 261.4 kilometre event.

The Irish squad could have included a third rider in the race but Cycling Ireland decided not to fill the slot due to a lack of experienced competitors.

Dan Martin and Matt Brammeier are both injured, Nicolas Roche has ended his season early due to fatigue and his upcoming wedding, while Philip Deignan declined to take up the slot.

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