Saturday 17 March 2018

'Luck of Irish' absent as all three U-23 hopefuls crash

Jake Gray. Picture credit: Stephen McMahon / SPORTSFILE
Jake Gray. Picture credit: Stephen McMahon / SPORTSFILE

Nigel Whittaker

Jake Gray was Ireland's top finisher in the junior men's road race in Doha yesterday, finishing 107th on a day when crashes put an end to the hopes of Ronan Tuomey and Xeno Young.

The junior men were competing over 135.5km, eight laps of a flat and fast circuit in the Middle Eastern city.

At the mid-section of the race Young attacked the bunch, but once he was brought back he got caught up in the crash.

Junior team manager Martin O'Loughlin explained: "Xeno had a pop off the front but, just as he drifted to the back after getting caught, a guy in front of him came down.

"Ronan was back there, too, and they both came down. The luck of the Irish deserted us today. The heat probably contributed to a lot of the crashes - it was the busiest day for the medical centre here."

Once Tuomey and Young were out of the race, Gray was the sole Irish rider on the course.

The second year junior was well positioned in the main group coming into the final kilometre, but he also fell victim to a crash in the bunch.

"Jake was just getting in for the gallop when he crashed," said O'Loughlin. It was disappointing for him.

"He's had a great junior and youth career. Next year he will ride for VC Toucy, so he has a big career ahead."

Young and Tuomey are still first year juniors - both are already back in school, making preparations for the World Championships a little more complicated.

"But their preparation was top notch with their coaches on what was always going to be a difficult Championships without acclimatisation camps," said O'Loughlin.

"The guys are very professional with their behaviour here.

"Hopefully these lads will learn from it this today. You have to enjoy the good days and learn from the bad days, and this is all part of the pathway.

"Now we have to drive for qualification for next year, and get more people to the World Championships in Bergen, that's the big aim for next year."

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