Ryan Mullen begins push for rare double in national championships

Rule change means last year’s first home aiming for Elite title this time around

Ryan Mullen was set to begin his national championship campaign yesterday evening, aiming for two titles a year after he took the under-23 time trial and Elite road race championships.

Twelve months ago Cycling Ireland regulations ensured that while the 19 -year-old was the quickest rider in the race against the clock, his under-23 status meant he was unable to receive the gold medal in the Elite time trial. Instead it went to Michael Hutchinson.

However a rule change since then means that the fastest competitor will now be crowned elite champion, regardless of his age. On paper Mullen should be the quickest and will be fired up to chase gold.

Road race

The women’s and masters races will also be held, with


Caroline Ryan

aiming to add a fourth title in the former.

Ryan will also line out in the 60-mile women's road race on Saturday, going up against former winners Siobhán Horgan, Olivia Dillon, Mel Spath and defending champion Fiona Meade. The 2014 winner Keith Gater heads the list for the 70-mile Master's 40 race, while the 50 and 60 age group events will be 45 miles in length.

Mullen will be back in action on Sunday and will once again aim for the men's road race title. The lumpy course will see him square off against a number of other strong challengers in the 2015 mile race, including four-time winner Matt Brammeier (MTN Qhubeka), Philip Deignan (Sky), former world scratch race champion Martyn Irvine (Madison Genesis), Connor McConvey (Team 3M) and Mullen's team-mates Sean Downey and Conor Dunne.

Like Mullen, Eddie Dunbar will also be eligible for the under-23 jersey and will be one of the tipped names.

Brammeier won the final stage of the Ster ZLM Toer on Sunday, his biggest victory to date, and appears to be hitting form at exactly the right time.

Nine riders

Deignan was tipped as a possible Tour de France starter but his presence on the nationals start line means he will miss the race. Sky is due to announce its Tour line-up on Monday;

Nicolas Roche

is thought likely to be one of the nine riders.

Also missing the nationals are Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) and Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18). They have already been confirmed for the Tour and prefer to keep as fresh as possible for that arduous event.

Bennett has been sick in the run-up to the Tour but his team confirmed yesterday that he remains 100 per cent certain to take part. He has missed his warm-up races but he will hope that the training he has got in prior to the Tour will still serve gun well.

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes

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