Michael O’Loughlin finished best of the Irish in 38th position at the Junior Men’s Road Race at the world championships in Richmond, Virginia today after an audacious late bid for medal glory.
The day’s action began with the men’s Junior Road Race Championships held over eight laps of the demanding 16.2km Richmond Downtown circuit where O’Loughlin lined up with Jake Gray, Adam Stenson, Darragh O’Mahoney and Simon Tuomey.
Having ridden intelligently in the bunch throughout the race which was contested in wet conditions, O’Loughlin moved to the front with two laps to go.
O’Loughlin was in a group of 15 riders with a narrow advantage starting the last lap and right in the mix as the riders tackled the final trio of climbs inside the final four kilometres.
At that point the bunch were in touching distance of the leaders and, as race winner Felix Gall (Austria) raced clear, O’Loughlin was swallowed up by the chasers after what had been a brave effort.
At the line he was 41st after a performance which was not reflected in the final result. Adam Stenson finished 89th with Jake Gray 112th on a day when 51 riders failed to make the finish line.
Darragh O’Mahony crashed on the first lap and, though uninjured, did have a mechanical which forced to stop at the pits for a bike change and resumed a long way behind with no possibility to return to the lead group.
With a relatively short circuit, O’Mahony had little chance of recording a finish. Simon Tuomey raced well in the lead group beyond two thirds distance and, having been distanced by the bunch was eventually listed as a non finisher.
Afterwards Irish Junior Coach Frank O’Leary paid tribute to the collective performance of the Irish team:
“The Irish junior team rode very well both as a unit and individually, looking out for each other ensuring that they kept moving towards the front. Michael positioned himself well all day and achieved his goal of getting in to the lead group at the latter stages of the race.
“It was exciting to watch him make his move coming to the last lap however that effort did not land him the final result he deserved. There is much more to come.”
“For first year juniors Jake and Adam rode really strongly and were well positioned until the last two laps but still finished well in what was super competitive world championships. Simon gave it his all but his positioning made it hard for him to stay in contact with the front of the race. Daragh was unfortunate to crash on the first lap which ended his chances prematurely.