Conor Dunne remains in limbo while Eddie Dunbar thrives at Team Sky
Collapse of Aqua Blue Sport has plunged Dunne into uncertainty and may force him to leave sport
Team Aqua Blue’s Conor Dunne celebrates winning the Cycling Ireland Road Racing National Championships, Sligo, in July. Photograph: Inpho
Dunne won the Irish road race championships on July 1st and signed a new two-year contract extension with the Aqua Blue Sport team. However the team collapsed towards the end of August, plunging riders and staff into uncertainty. Dunbar is one of the most promising young riders in the sport and quickly found a slot with Team Sky, but things have not been as straightforward for Dunne.
The 26-year-old confirmed to The Irish Times on Thursday that he had not yet secured a replacement contract for 2019. The Aqua Blue Sport team owner Rick Delaney recently made a public commitment on the Cycling Podcast that he would pay the 2019 wages if contracted riders can’t find a team; providing that indeed proves to be the case, it will remove financial pressure from Dunne.
However if he is unable to find a team for next season, there is a danger that the reigning national champion will walk away from the sport.
Dunbar has impressed since his move to Team Sky, setting Gianni Moscon up for victory in both the Coppa Agostoni and also Wednesday’s Giro della Toscana. He was one of the strongest riders in the latter event and, despite expending vital energy in helping his new teammate take the win, was a very solid 15th.
His form bodes well for the upcoming World Road Race Championships, which begin on Monday. Lara Gillespie will get things under way in the junior women’s time trial, and will be joined by Maeve Gallagher in the road race.
Dunbar and Michael O’Loughlin will both do the under 23 time trial and road race, while Daire Feeley, Matthew Teggart and Darragh O’Mahony will join them in the latter. The junior men’s selection sees Ben Healy and Aaron Doherty compete in both disciplines and Breandán Flannagan and Archie Ryan compete in the road race.
The squad is completed by the elite riders. Eileen Burns and Kelly Murphy will do the women’s time trial and Alice Sharpe will ride the road event. As for the elite men, Nicolas Roche and Ryan Mullen will do the time trial and will then be joined by Dunne in the road race.
Dan Martin is expected to be the team leader on a course tailor-made for him, but it remains to be seen if his early exit from the Vuelta a España coupled with becoming a father to twin girls this week will affect his form.