||Last Updated: 1 Oct 2018 - 1:13:07 PM
Dunbar On the Attack as Ireland Feature Strongly in Under 23 World Championships
27th September 2018
Eddie Dunbar has finished 20th in the Men's Under 23 Road Race at the World Road Championships in Innsbruck following an attacking performance from Team Ireland.
Dunbar raced out of the main group of favourites on the penultimate climb of five with 36km to go in an effort to make contact with the two leaders out front.
He got to within nine seconds of the two leaders Mark Padun (Ukr) and Patrick Muller (Sui) in company with Switzerland's Gino Mader and was clear for approximately 17km before being reabsorbed by the bunch on the final ascent of the demanding 7km Igls climb.
He paid for his earlier effort and eventually finished 3m23s behind new world champion Marc Hirschi of Switzerland but the final result did not reflect the role that Team Ireland had played in the race.
Team manager Neil Martin set out a clear game plan that was designed to make the most of Dunbar's credentials and from the early kilometres of the 180km race, Darragh O'Mahony, Michael O'Loughlin and Conn McDunphy were the first three riders in the peloton, setting the tempo behind a group of three riders just over two minutes clear.
Dunbar sat fourth in the group with Daire Feeley fifth rider in the line and ready to support Dunbar should he need assistance.
O'Mahony and McLoughlin presented Dunbar into the first climb of an arduous alpine test in perfect position after just under 100km and O'Mahony, McDunphy, both fought back up front after difficult moments to make further important contributions.
Behind Dunbar, Conn McDunphy rode heroically to finish 84th, an impressive result for a rider who only found out he was riding the race this week.
The other three were listed as non-finishers and all five can reflect on a committed and aggressive team performance to equal anything seen from an Irish team on the road.
Afterwards Eddie Dunbar was understandably disappointed with the final result but proud of the way in which Team Ireland had taken the race on.
"I didn’t feel good at all today which was disappointing because the guys rode so well," he said. "We rode to win the race today. I went in with the intention of winning and I would have been happy with nothing else.
"The third time up the climb when they went full (gas) and I just realised that, right, if the race comes down to the climb it’s not going to be my day today.
"I just thought I need to think of a different way of doing what I normally do but in the most effective way and that was by attacking on the descent.
"I came close to the two guys out front but if there was any other rider than the Swiss rider with me it might have been a slightly different race going onto that final lap.
"I wouldn’t have had to spend too much energy trying to across to the two up front. We actually would have caught them, I think.
"Look it was just the way the race went but that aside I think the Irish lads deserve massive credit because they rode superbly today and I’ve never seen that.
"I’ve never seen any Irish team take control of a race like they did today, in a world championship even, and they deserve a lot of credit for that.
"We had a meeting last night. We knew we could win the race and we gave ourselves the best possible chance of doing that. When push came to shove today I probably did let everyone down here but as I said it was just wasn’t my day my legs just didn’t show up.
"I was there mentally today but my legs weren’t and that’s kinda disappointing because I had good form last week and I thought my prep coming into this and everything I’ve done, I don’t think I could have actually done it better.
"Not finishing off today for what the guys did yeah, it’s just a bit disappointing but, as I said, it’s bike racing and life goes on.
"We hit the circuit and we rode the first time up the climb and I felt pretty alright. Normally when I do that I start to feel better. I know my body well enough now and I started the race and I didn’t feel great at all and normally I’d say, alright give it time, I haven’t raced in a week so maybe just ride into it.
"I ate and drank perfectly. I couldn’t have done that better and, yeah, I never actually rode myself into it. Normally when you’re riding on the front like that it opens you up a little bit.
"That’s the way I wanted to race today and stay out of trouble and stay out of the wind. I know I was probably seen at the front quite a bit but I was still sheltered and as I said I just didn’t feel it today but as I said I’m quite disappointed."
Next on the schedule is the Women's Elite Road Race tomorrow with four tough climbs on the 156km route. Alice Sharpe is Ireland's representative in the event.
Gallagher and Healy Perform With Distinction at World Road Championships in Innsbruck
Update: 26th September 2018
Maeve Gallagher and Ben Healy were the top Irish finishers on day five of the World Road Championships in Innsbruck today.
Gallagher finished 26th and Healy 25th in the Women's and Men's Junior Road Races, respectively, after a day of racing on some of the most arduous terrain ever presented at a world championships.
Gallagher and Lara Gillespie were Ireland's representatives in the 72.7km Women's Junior race in the morning. Two difficult climbs served to splinter the peloton into various smaller groups until local rider Laura Stigger sprinted in ahead of three others to take the rainbow jersey .
Behind, Gallagher gave an excellent account of herself to lead in a group of 17 sprinting for 26th, 4m56s behind Stigger and some 51seconds ahead of fellow-first year junior Gillespie in 54th position.
Having come through another test in her developing international racing career, Gallagher was thrilled with her performance on the biggest of stages.
“I was happy with that considering I'm a first year junior,” said Gallagher. “And, yeah, the course was tough. There was no hiding out there. And there are no hills like that in Ireland! But I'm happy with how I did and it was a great experience.
“The main thing was to try and get a good position going into the first hill and I was happy with my position going in. And then, I was up near the front and it then, girls were just attacking and it was split to bits.
“I just tried to hang on for as long as I could. And then we got to the top of the hill and there was the main bunch and we were only 15 - 20 seconds off them. But then there were three groups and then our group caught on to the next group and no one really worked together.
“So, a group behind us caught. And then coming on to the last hill, I tried to go to the front and put the pressure on and we dropped a few girls.
“And then the descent was really fast and I was just happy to stay safe. I wasn't actually really nervous, it's like, It's my first world championship, but I've done a lot of European races before so, I was just really excited and proud to be representing Ireland.”
The Men's Junior Road Race followed in the afternoon with Ben Healy, Aaron Doherty, Archie Ryan and Breandan Gallagher all doing battle for Team Ireland.
The 132.5km race was marred by repeated crashes including a spill just after the half way point which cost Doherty dear.
The Wesport-rider had already been delayed behind one crash but fought his way back into the bunch only to be caught up in another pile-up soon after.
Doherty hit the ground and was soon back on his feet but the combination of the delay and his previous chase took their toll and he would eventually be listed as a non-finisher.
Meanwhile Healy, Ryan and Flannagan were in the lead group tackling the first of the three climbs at 70km, the demanding Anstieg, which split the peloton into various groups.
Healy hung on until close to the top when he was picked up by a group led by pre-event favourite and eventual race winner Remco Evenepoel of Belgium.
That group made the junction with the new group of favourites to make it a group of 25 chasing two leaders out front.
Healy was well to the fore as the bunch arrived on the finishing circuit for two laps of 24km and he hung on in that group until the penultimate climb of day at Ingls, a 7km alpine assault of 5.5% average.
Healy was tailed off half way up that climb and eventually went to the finish line in a group of four in 25th place, 10m47s behind Evenepoel.
Further back, Flannagan finished the day in 58th place while Ryan was classified 80th of the 155 starters.
Afterwards Healy was satisfied he had given his all on one of the toughest parcours he has experienced in his racing life to date.
"It was not the perfect course for me," he said. "I like the more rouleur stuff not the pure climber (courses) so it was pretty brutal but I’m actually pretty happy with my result in the end.
"I made sure I was at the front coming into all the climbs, avoided all the crashes and, yeah, it turned out pretty good really.
"(There were) crashes all over. I literally just made sure I was in the top 15 for the whole race. You might have seen that on telly. I was making sure I was moving up and not getting swamped by the bunch and it worked pretty well.
"I was at the front and that (Doherty-Evenepoel) crash happened literally right behind me. A group of about 20 riders got a gap because of that and really it worked out perfectly for me because it meant that I could go at my own pace up the climb being a bit steeper.
"I just sort of got into a rhythm and just took my own pace and over the top Remco (Evenepoel) came around which made it even better because we just got on his wheel and he just towed us back to front.
"Up the final climbs I just hung in for as long as I could, really. I wasn’t right at the front of the bunch but I just hung on as long as I could.
"I'm definitely satisfied as I haven’t really been going too well this back half of the season. Yeah, 25th on a course that isn’t necessarily something that I really like. I’m definitely satisfied with this result."
It's the turn of the men's nder-23 riders to take centre stage tomorrow in their road race starting at Kufstein. Eddie Dunbar, Michael O'Loughlin, Matt Teggart and Daire Feeley wear green in the 179.9km race.
2018 WORLD ROAD CHAMPIONSHIPS SCHEDULE (Irish Times):
Friday 28th September
11.10am U23 Men’s RR
Eddie Dunbar, Michael O’Loughlin, Matt Teggart, Daire Feeley & Darragh O'Mahony
Saturday 29th September
11.10am Elite Women’s RR
Sunday 30th September
8.40am Elite Men’s RR
Dan Martin, Nico Roche, Conor Dunne & Ryan Mullen
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