An Post Chain Reaction team rider, Ryan Mullen, will go in to tomorrow’s Irish National Time Trial championship brimming with confidence after finishing eighth overall in the European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan, last week.
The talented 20-year old will also compete in the Irish National Road Race Championship which takes place on Sunday, 28th June and faces stiff competition in both disciplines; seasoned professional Matt Brammeier (MTN Qhubeka) will look to reclaim the time trial title that he previously won in 2011 as well as the road race title which he has won on four occasions. He comes into the race in excellent form, having claimed the biggest victory of his professional career last week when he won the fourth and final stage of the ZLM Tour (2.1) in Holland, against some of the world’s best sprinters.
An Post team manager, Kurt Bogaerts, feels Mullen is primed to put in a performance to remember in the time trial.
“Ryan is going 100% for the title in the elite Time Trial. That is his main goal for the week. He’s feeling really good and motivated and with the conditions, it will certainly suit him. It’s just a matter of recovering after the race on Sunday in Baku but he’s in great shape so he will be ready.”
This year sees the Irish National Championship Time Trial course take place in Omagh, Co. Tyrone. The course, which is based on a single 23 mile loop, breaks from traditional flat routes and features a challenging and hilly profile with almost a thousand feet of climbing.
Bogaerts was keen to highlight how tough the competition is this year.
“I think it will be an open battle this year. We’re – more often than not – the underdog and this year’s race has Philip Deignan (Team Sky) and Matthew Brammeier starting and they are both excellent and vastly experienced riders. It will be difficult but we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Also gearing up for the Irish National Championship Road Race, are Mullen’s An Post Team mates who all boast impressive CV’s from last year’s outing: Sean Downey came second overall in the elite category while Conor Dunne finished third in the U23 category and Eoin McCarthy was placed in the top ten in the U23 category. Last year’s U23 runner up, Jack Wilson, fell victim to a bad fall last weekend in Baku and could be a doubt for the upcoming fixture.
“Jack [Wilson] had a bad crash in Baku and is still recovering from that, so he will be touch and go as to whether he will take part. We’ll have to wait and see how he is recovering and make a decision over the coming days.”
Other An Post Riders in action this week are Josh Edmondson and Alistair Slater. The British duo will be competing in their own UK National Time Trials and Road Race this weekend. Xandro Meurisse and Jens Vandenbogaerde will be participating in the Belgian Nationals while Lithuanians Aidis Kroupis and Paulius Siskevicius will be taking part in the Lithuanian Nationals this weekend too. Siskevicius goes into the race as reigning champion from last year. Bogaerts is delighted that his riders can gain valuable experience competing against such high quality riders.
“These types of races are massively important to the riders. If you can win it, you get to ride all year with the jersey which is a huge honour for the guys. It’s the pride of your country so all the riders will be giving everything to try and be able to win. It’s always a main target of ours at the start of every year. We have won it twice previously. It’s always a huge achievement and a great feeling and we’re really looking forward to it.”
The Senior & U23 National Time Trials commence tomorrow (Thursday 25th June) at 11am. The Senior & U23 Men Road Race Championship will start in Omagh at 11am on Sunday 28th June, completing 105 miles over seven laps of an exciting course around Omagh town.