Monday 27 May 2019

Dunbar reaches for the Sky as deal is signed

Maria Herlihy

As the adage goes, when one door closes another opens and that is true to form for cycling supremo Eddie Dunbar.

The Banteer native has joined the cycling giants Team Sky. Eddie, who is just 22 years-old, was among 16 members of Team Aqua Blue, which is being disbanded at the end of the season. Aqua Blue Sport made the announcement of their closure last month, citing a lack of revenue in order to make the Irish professional cycling outfit a self-sustaining team. 

"Sometimes a team folding is the way sport goes. I just had to be professional about it and understand the situation. Luckily, Sky came along and they offered me a block of Italian races which is good preparation for Innsbruck. It's all fallen into place for me and I can't wait to get started now," said Eddie.

Eddie is a one of Ireland's rising stars along with fellow Duhallow cyclist and Rockchapel native Darragh O'Mahony. They both started out in Kanturk Cycling Club and quickly began to notch up the accolades. 

Eddie, who is quite the pocket rocket, told But he has also had his knocks - In the opening day of the U-23 Giro d'Italia last year Dunbar crashed badly, his head taking the brunt of the impact. He was left dazed and in pain but the full extent of the damage didn't emerge for some months.

As he said at the time, rather than take three weeks off he ended up taking three months because of it. While it massively disrupted his season, Eddie took stock of where he was and got back on the saddle - when he was ready. 

Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford described Eddie as a talented young rider.

"We've been watching him for a while and it's clear that he has great potential. He particularly impressed at the Tour de Yorkshire and Tour de L'Avenir this year and we hope he can build on those performances with us," he said. 

"We're looking forward to integrating him into the team during the remainder of 2018, allowing him to hit the ground running in 2019, and hope he can form a part of our next generation as we continue to build for the future," he said.

As mentioned, Eddie began his career with O'Leary Stone Kanturk Cycling Club.

In 2014 , when  Eddie's dreams of cycling began,  ironically, in his sitting room at home in Banteer when he watched the Tour de France on TV with his dad, Eamonn. 

Eddie said that was where his love of cycling began and his dream of winning the Tour de France took hold. 

Very sadly, Eamonn passed away when Eddie was still a very young boy. To this day, Eddie cycles with a locket of his dad's hair along with a holy medal that his dad used to wear. 

At one stage, Eddie lost the locket when cycling in Donegal but a local guard found it and it made its way back to Eddie again. 

Back in Banteer, no doubt his mom, Margaret and sisters Sinead and Siobhan are beaming. Eddie has said that they have always been a huge support to him. 

Dan Curtin of O'Leary Stone Kanturk Cycling Club was quick to point out that he could see Eddie's "huge potential" when he joined their U11 club, back in the day. Eddie turned up for cycling without a bike but Dan sorted him out - and really, the rest is now history. 

"Eddie has had it tough, too, with crashes but Eddie is just Eddie. He is so down to earth and is so focussed on cycling. You really wouldn't meet a finer young lad. We are hugely proud of him here in the club. But for all the roads that Eddie cycles on abroad, he loves coming home," said Dan. 

There is certainly truth in that statement as while Eddie is now at an elite stage he does have a grá for the roads of Duhallow.

"I like training on Irish roads, there's nothing wrong with them, they've made me what I am," he said. 

An Irish bookmaker is already offering odds on Eddie winning the Tour de France. "It doesn't bother me at all. Pressure is for tyres," he laughs.

"The way I see it, it is not my money I am wasting. If people want to put money on it, fair enough," said Eddie.