Mullen takes another double at National Championships
Having taken gold in the elite men's time trial last Thursday, Ryan Mullen completed the second National Championship double of his career when he soloed to victory in the men's elite Road Race Championships in Wexford yesterday.
One of only three WorldTour riders on the start line yesterday, Mullen was active throughout the 180km race, but admitted he almost pulled out after a hectic opening 40km.
"The way the race was going, after about two laps I was thinking about coming into the pits and just calling it a day," said the Cannondale-Drapac pro afterwards. "The break wasn't going and it was so, so hard. I was in every move bar two or three and it got to the stage where I couldn't attack any more. I had to just gently accelerate and hope nobody was behind me."
Mullen thought he had broken the elastic to the peloton after 100km when he went clear with Michael O'Loughlin (Team Wiggins), Monaco-based amateur Daire Feeley and Aqua Blue duo Matt Brammeier and Sean Lacey.
Sam Bennett of Bora-Hansgrohe then made his way across before a large chase group merged with the leaders with two-and-a-half laps to go.
From this new group, Connor Dunne of Aqua Blue was first to attack and headed for the bell with 30 seconds advantage over domestic-based Chris McGlinchey of ChainReaction, while a chase group containing Mullen, Bennett, Matt Brammeier, O'Loughlin, Sean Lacey and defending champion Nicolas Roche were a further 30 seconds back.
"Coming into the last lap Conor had a minute on us and I just had to bury myself to try and pull him back," said Mullen, who won both the time trial and road race in 2014 as a teenager.
"I caught McGlinchey at the start of the main road, with about 10km to go, and we worked well into the headwind to catch Conor with maybe 5km to go."
With this trio well clear of the chasers, McGlinchey was first to attack on the steep final climb with 4km remaining, but Mullen quickly countered the move and was 23 seconds clear of McGlinchey at the finish, with Dunne hanging on for bronze 52 seconds back and just six seconds ahead of Roche.
"We started fighting on the last climb and it turned out I'd brought some climbing legs with me today," smiled Mullen afterwards.
"I really wasn't expecting this today, but it's pretty special to have the Irish champion's jersey back. I'm delighted."
Just as happy with his silver medal was 23-year-old Chris McGlinchey, a full-time digital marketing executive who only took up road racing two years ago.
"I felt pretty bad for the first couple of hours," admitted the ChainReaction rider afterwards. "There were groups slinging off the front all over the place, but I think a lot of people were just watching the pros and sitting on them. I came around a bit in the last two hours, though, and on the last lap I found myself chasing Dunne."
"I tried to attack on the last climb, but just didn't have enough and Mullen came past me. After that, we all just sort of time trialled to the finish. I'm super happy with the result."
Michael O'Loughlin (Team Wiggins) finished sixth to take his second consecutive U-23 title ahead of Angus Fyffe (Omagh) and Ryan Reilly (AC Bisontine).
Earlier in the day, Lydia Boylan took the women's road race title ahead of Lauren Creamer and Ellen McDermott.