Mullen in 'disbelief' after fighting fifth
Ryan Mullen recorded Ireland's best result at the elite world time trial championships yesterday when he finished fifth in the 40km race against the clock in Doha, Qatar.
Mullen (22) qualified to ride the U-23 race - an event in which he missed gold by just half a second in 2014 - but having signed for the Cannondale-Drapac professional team at the start of this year, chose to ride the longer elite time trial as he deemed the course better suited to his style.
Despite temperatures of almost 40 degrees, Mullen scorched around in a time of 46 mins 4 secs to beat all of those who had preceded him and propel him into the 'hot seat' of race leader.
Even as world hour record holder Rohan Dennis and Olympic silver medallist Tom Dumoulin crossed the line in Doha, the six-time Irish time trial champion topped the leaderboard. Mullen wasn't displaced until the very end as Germany's Tony Martin took a fourth career world title ahead of defending champion Vasil Kiryienka of Belarus and Spanish champion Jonathan Castroviejo. Mullen was just 11 seconds off a medal in his first ride at elite level.
"If someone offered me a top 15 or even top 20 going in to this time trial I'd have signed on the dotted line straight away," he beamed. "I came in to this with no pressure and I just went out to see how I'd measure up against the top guys in the world.
"It feels kinda weird to see my name up there with them. Ryan Mullen doesn't get fifth in the world, just 11 seconds off a medal in the elite race, so I'm in disbelief a bit but the elite course was really well suited to me today."
A world silver medallist at both junior and U-23 level, Mullen has always been destined for stardom against the clock although illness has ruined much of his first year in the professional peloton.
"I've had a shit year personally but there have been a lot of people who've stuck by me this year. Even when it wasn't going to plan early on, they believed in me. It's nice for me to be able to pay them back with a decent result."