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ROAD RACING Last Updated: 28 Sep 2021 - 7:42:05 PM

2021 UCI World Championships - Roundup
By Ciara O’Shea, Cycling Ireland
26 Sep 2021,

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Media Release: 26.09.21
Townsend in breakaway ride at the World Championship

Rory Townsend put in a brilliant ride for Ireland in the Elite Men’s Road Race today at the World Championships in Flanders, Belgium.

Townsend spent the majority of his race in the eight-man breakaway and was aggressive in the lead group even when they were reeled in by the chasing group with about 130 kilometres to go. Townsend remained in contention in the lead group until a cramp forced him off his bike and he could not continue the race.

Over the arduous 268.7km course, the peloton reduced significantly with only 68 riders completing the course out of 195 that started.

Eddie Dunbar and Ryan Mullen rode well today but were unfortunately among the high number of riders who did not finish the race. Dunbar was threatening at the beginning of the race and made attempts to make an escape but the attacks were quickly nullified by the peloton.

Speaking after the race, Dunbar said:

“It was a very, very hard race. I hadn’t raced since the Olympics because I got covid after it so I actually wasn’t going to race for the rest of the year after that because I had three full weeks off the bike. But training went well over the last few weeks but today I did suffer you know. I tried a lot to get into the breakaway, maybe I spent a bit too much energy trying to follow a lot of moves but in the end it was really good to have Rory there. Then it was just about trying to stay upright on the circuits and yah if you had legs you were going to be there. I knew I had a good 4 hours in me, I did get caught by the crash which didn’t help so I did have to pull out a bit earlier than I would’ve thought. But it’s just nice to be back racing you know.”

Reining World Champion Julian Alaphilippe of France wins again
World Champion Julian Alaphilippe of France defended his title in style, after launching a solo attack with 17 kilometres to go. In the chasing group, Dylan van Baarle of the Netherlands took silver while Michael Valgren of Denmark claimed the bronze medal.

Although things didn’t turn out the way we had hoped, some of the team goals were still achieved and many positives can be taken from it. Tim Barry, DS for the elite riders said:

“One of the team goals was to get a rider in the early breakaway which was Rory and he was successful in that, he was up there for a long time.”

“Rory had a very good ride, solid performance for him and you know he can build on that for future races.” Tim added.

- Full interview with Tim Barry:

Team Ireland riders battle hard during Junior and Elite World Championships
Media Release: 25.09.21

Three riders represented Ireland today at the Road World Championships in Flanders, Belgium.

Aoife during the Junior Road Race - Image by Man Down Media

Aoife O’Brien and Erin Grace Creighton flew the flag for Ireland in the Junior Women’s Road Race. The women faced five laps of the punchy Leuven circuit, totalling 75.2 kilometres in total.

Team Ireland battled hard to stick the searing pace with O’Brien managing to hold on until the end where she finished within a group placing 81st at 11:51. Creighton was among the non-finishers.

Zoe Backstedt from Great Britain and USA rider, Kaia Schmid, broke away from the bunch with about 30 kilometres to go and maintained their lead until the finish. Double stage winner at this year’s Rás na mBan and winner of the points classification, Kaia Schmid was pipped at the line by Backstedt in the sprint for the rainbow jersey.

In the chasing group, Linda Riedmann of Germany sprinted home first to claim the bronze medal.

Speaking after the race, Creighton commented on the difficulty of the race:

“Really tough, a lot tougher than I think we expected. The first lap just went off, everyone just went off like a rocket and it was just so tough.”

Both riders are first year juniors and have gained invaluable experience competing at a major event one which they thoroughly enjoyed.

O’Brien said:

“We’re both first year juniors so we still have next year so hopefully we can improve on, learn from this and improve for next year.”

Team Ireland has received incredible support in Belgium for the World Championships.

“There was an Irish person on every corner,” Creighton laughed.

“Yah we always got a cheer,” O’Brien added.

Megan Armitage Elite RR Action - Image by Man Down Media

Megan Armitage, the sole Irish rider in the Elite Women’s Road Race put in a superb performance today until a crash knocked her chances of finishing the race. Armitage was aggressive from the start and tried to get into an early breakaway but any early attacks were quickly nullified by the bunch. Armitage was riding extremely well and maintained her position in the bunch but withdrew from the race with 56 kilometres to go after losing too much time when she went down.

The 157.70 kilometre race which started in Antwerp and finished in Leuven was won by Italian rider Elisa Balsamo in a sprint for the line finishing ahead of Marianne Vos of the Netherlands and Katarzyna Niewiadoma of Poland.

The World Championships will draw to a close tomorrow, Sunday 25th with the Elite Men’s Road Race. Eddie Dunbar, Rory Townsend and Ryan Mullen will fly the flag for Ireland in the final day of the Road World Championships. The action gets underway at 9:25am.

Ward and Rafferty dominant in Junior and U23 Road Races
Media Release: 24.09.21

Rafferty finished 24th in the bunch sprint for bronze

The Road Races got off to an explosive start with the Junior Men this morning at the World Road Championships in Flanders, Belgium.

Team Ireland’s Darren Rafferty put in a brilliant performance to finish 24th in the bunch sprint for 3rd place.

The World Title was won by Per Strand Hagenes who made history today becoming the first Norwegian to become Junior Road Race World Champion. Romain Gregoire of France claimed the silver medal 19 seconds down on Hagenes. In the bunch sprint for bronze, Madis Mihkels of Estonia was victorious.

Ronan O’Connor was the only other rider from Team Ireland that finished the challenging course placing 66th, 2:52 down. Conal Scully and Dean Harvey were among the high number of non-finishers on the day.

Speaking after the race, Rafferty said:

“Just finished today totally empty so happy to have got everything out. The course was great, pretty much had everything and it was flat out right from the start to finish. I got caught behind a few crashes in the early laps but apart from that all went well. Overall a solid result and didn't have the legs to do any better so can't complain!”

The second and final race of the day saw the U23 Men battle over 160.90 kilometres in what was a chaotic race from start to finish. After a delay in the neutralised zone due to crashes, the race wasn’t long kicking off and a three-man breakaway formed which included Team Ireland’s Adam Ward. Ward put in a spectacular performance which saw him stay in the breakaway until he eventually lost time on the 10th hill of the day and was reeled in by the bunch with about 60 kilometres to go.

After the race Adam Ward commented:

“The first couple of k [kilometres] were just so hectic, in the neutral zone there was like three crashes and then I was at the front when the break was going and I thought I may as well take a hack.”

After a long and testing race, Dillon Corkery was the first of the Irish Team to finish, crossing the line in 86th position. Ben Healy who competed in the Time Trial at the beginning of the week also represented Ireland (100th). After a spending a massive amount of time in the breakaway group, Adam Ward rolled in at 113th.

Italy claimed another World Title of the competition with rider Filippo Baroncini. In the sprint for silver, Biniam Girmay of Eritrea got the better of the group finishing ahead of Olav Kooij from the Netherlands. Girmay claimed the first ever medal for Eritrea at a UCI Road World Championships.

The championship continues on tomorrow, Saturday 25th with the Junior and Elite Women’s Road Races. Erin Grace Creighton and Aoife O’Brien will fly the flag for Ireland in the Junior race which gets underway at 7:15am while Megan Armitage goes in the Elite Women’s Road Race begins at 11:20am.

Full interview with Adam Ward and Ben Healy:

Rafferty 11th at Junior Time Trial World Championships
Media Release 21/09/2021

Darren Rafferty finishes in 11th place today at the Junior Time Trial World Championships in Flanders, Belgium.

After finishing agonisingly close to winning the bronze medal in the same event at the European Road Championships in Italy, Rafferty powered around the World Championship course today to finish just outside the top 10.

Rafferty was 1:06.25 down on the gold medal winner, completing the course in an average speed of 50.06kph.

The World title was won by Gustav Wang of Denmark, who went around the 22.30 kilometre course in a time of 25:37.42, for an average speed of 52.217kph, safely securing gold by 20 seconds from Joshua Tarling of Great Britain. German rider, Alec Segaert claimed bronze by the narrowest of margins finishing half a second quicker than Carl-Frederik Bevort of Denmark.

Teammate Conal Skully finished in a time of 28:05.83 averaging 47.62kph to finish in 52nd position.

Speaking after the event today, Rafferty said:

“I’m feeling pretty good, I would have loved a top 10 today but I just didn’t have enough to get there today. I’m definitely satisfied with 11th as the preparation and planning up to the event was perfect and it gives me plenty of confidence going into the road race on Friday which will be a long and tough 122 kilometre race.”

Team Ireland’s World Road Championships continues on Friday, 24th with the Junior and U23 Men’s Road Races. The Junior and Elite Women will compete on Saturday while the elite men will compete on Sunday.

Sam Bennett out of World Championships
Media Release 21/09/2021

Cycling Ireland has confirmed Sam Bennett has withdrawn from the men’s road race at the UCI Road World Championships in Flanders, Belgium which takes place on Sunday, 26th September.

The Carrick-on-Suir sprinter recently made his return to racing for the European Road Championships after injury forced him out of the 2021 Tour de France and has since been back in action with his team, Deceuninck – Quick-Step.

Commenting on his withdrawal from the World Championships, Bennett said:

"It is always an honour to represent Ireland on the international stage. However, unfortunately competing in this year’s World Road C’ships will not be possible. I am very happy to be back racing pain free and with each race I know my fitness levels and race sharpness are improving. However at this stage, a gruelling 260km+ race is probably a step too far. I wish Eddie Dunbar, Rory Townsend and Ryan Mullen the very best this weekend and will be supporting them from afar".

We wish Sam well for the remainder of the season.

The Irish team for the men’s road race on Sunday includes Eddie Dunbar, Rory Townsend and Ryan Mullen.

Healy 31st and McCambridge 39th at U23 Time Trial World Championships
Media Release 20/09/2021

Ben Healy and Kevin McCambridge represented Ireland in the U23 Individual Time Trial at the Road World Championships in Flanders, Belgium this morning.

The World Title was won by Johan Price Pejtersen of Denmark, who completed the 30.3 kilometre course in a time of 34:29.75 averaging 52.70kph. Lucas Plapp claimed silver at 10.24 while Florian Vermeersch secured bronze at 11.39.

Ben Healy gave it everything he could but unfortunately an illness stopped him from performing to the best of his abilities today. Healy finished 31st in a time of 36:28.90 averaging 49.83 kph.

Speaking after the Time Trial, Healy said:

“I’m pretty gutted to be honest. People who have been around me and people who help me know how much I have put into this. I just didn’t perform because I picked up a bit of an illness a few days ago. On course I didn’t have any legs and on the second half I was actually physically throwing up. It was just one of those days to forget I think for me really.”

Looking ahead to the Road Race at the end of the week, Healy said:

“I know the form was there before this so hopefully with another few days rest before the road race will sort me out. The road race is quite steady to start with so hopefully that will be a good bit of an opener to get me into it and hopefully I will be able to get stuck in when the race starts to kick off.”

Team Ireland’s Kevin McCambridge put in a strong ride to finish in 39th place clocking a time of 36:43:19 averaging 49.51 kph.

McCambridge commented after the race:

“For me the time trial was good. The forecast was giving a bit of a tailwind but I didn’t really feel much of a tailwind to be honest. I was happy with how I performed because last week at the Europeans I started a bit too hard and suffered towards the end but I think this time I started a little too easy and finished a lot stronger than I should have. I think now it’s just trying to find somewhere in the middle that I can get in all that effort.”

The next big race for McCambridge is the National Time Trials which he is looking forward to competing at.

“It’s one of my biggest goals of the year so I’ll hopefully perform on the day and everything goes right.”

Darren Rafferty and Conal Skully will be in action tomorrow in the Junior Men’s Time Trial.

Mullen 33rd and Christie 39th at Time Trial World Championships
Media Release: 19/09/2021

Team Ireland’s World Championship campaign kicked off today with the Elite Men’s Time Trial. Ryan Mullen and Marcus Christie flew the flag for Ireland in Flanders, Belgium.

Marcus Christie was first to race for Ireland taking to the start line for the 43.3 kilometre race against the clock. Christie crossed the line in a time of 53:07.20, averaging 48.90kph to finish in 39th position. Mullen went faster again, powering through the course in a time of 51:59.73, averaging 49.96kph to finish in 33rd position.

Filippo Ganna of Italy of Italy defended his World Title completing the course in a time of 47:47.83 averaging an impressive 54.35kph. Wout van Aert of Belgium claimed the silver medal finishing 5.37 seconds off Ganna’s time while his teammate, Remco Evenpoel Evenpoel rounded off the podium finishing in a time of 48:31.17.

Ryan Mullen commented after the race:

“I’m quite happy with my ride. It was a big improvement compared to last week at the Europeans.”

“It was just lonely out there, the long straights, nothing but trees and windmills for company. I’m satisfied with the ride, I got it all out there I just wish I had more to give at this moment in time but it is how it is and we’ll move onto the road race on Sunday.”

Ben Healy and Kevin McCambridge will ride the 30.3 kilometre tomorrow, Monday 20th. Ryan Mullen will be in action again next Sunday for the Road Race where he will be joined by Sam Bennett, Eddie Dunbar and Rory Townsend.


Irish Cycling Team – UCI Road World Championships, Flanders, Belgium. (19th-26th September)

Elite Men’s Road Race: Sam Bennett, Eddie Dunbar, Rory Townsend, Ryan Mullen.

Elite Men’s Time Trial: Ryan Mullen, Marcus Christie.

Elite Women’s Road Race: Megan Armitage.

U23 Men’s Road Race: Ben Healy, Dillon Corkery, Adam Ward.

U23 Men’s Time Trial: Ben Healy, Kevin McCambridge.

Junior Men’s Road Race: Darren Rafferty, Ronan O'Connor, Conal Skully, Dean Harvey.

Junior Men’s Time Trial: Darren Rafferty, Conal Skully.

Junior Women’s Road Race: Erin Grace Creighton, Aoife O'Brien


Sunday 19th
1:30pm Elite Men Individual Time Trial

Monday 20th
9:40am U23 Men Individual Time Trial

Tuesday 21st
13:55pm Junior Men Individual Time Trial

Friday 24th
7:15am Junior Men Road Race
12:25pm U23 Men Road Race

Saturday 25th
7:15am Junior Women Road Race
11:20am Elite Women Road Race

Sunday 26th
9:25am Elite Men Road Race


Course details and route maps link

[ External Website / link click here ]

Latest Headlines
Johnson & Perrott Fleet Partners With Olympic Hopeful Lara Gillespie
2022 Cycling Ireland Road Rankings and Season Review
Archie Ryan 'Proud' After Breakthrough Season as he Targets More Success in 2023
Report from the final round of the Road National Series

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