Mullen leaves Martin in his wake to take National glory
Baby-faced assassin Ryan Mullen stormed to victory at the National Road Race championships in Multyfarnham yesterday, the 19-year-old An Post Chain Reaction rider soloing clear of a 10-man escape group with 35km to go in the 171km race.
Mullen first went clear on the opening 19km lap alongside team-mates Sean Downey and Jack Wilson, Roger Aiken of Banbridge, US-based pro Stephen Clancy (Novo Nordisk), Belfast man Ali Macauley (Phoenix), Aquablue duo Bryan McCrystal and Neil Delahaye, Cork sprinter Paidi O'Brien (Osborne Meats) and British-based Dominic Jelfs of Madison Genesis.
These 10 soon built up a lead of more than two minutes on the rest of the field, leaving pre-race favourites Sam Bennett (NetApp Endura) and Dan Martin (Garmin Sharp) stranded in the peloton behind.
Martin tried to bridge across to the front group with local man and last year's runner-up Damien Shaw of Aquablue with four of the 19km laps remaining, but the duo only managed to catch the tail end of the break before the line.
Up ahead, Mullen had gone solo with a lap and a half to go and, showing the raw power that saw him set a faster time than the elite riders to win the U-23 time trial championships on Thursday, the teenager stormed away to win by one minute and 14 seconds.
"I don't quite know how that's happened," beamed a delighted Mullen. "I didn't expect today's result whatsoever. I didn't put any pressure on myself coming into the road race after the time trial on Thursday.
"I haven't done a ride of four hours in about three weeks, so to even finish the race I would have been pretty happy, but to win it is unbelievable."
Mullen's team-mate Sean Downey took silver in the sprint behind, beating multiple title-holder Paidi O'Brien, with McCrystal a close fourth, Wilson fifth and Jelfs, the last man to hang on from the break, sixth.
Shaw outsprinted Martin for seventh 15 seconds later, with Delahaye and Duncan Fraser (Dave Kane Cycles) rounding out the top 10.
Mullen also took the U-23 title ahead of team-mates Wilson and Conor Dunne, while his An Post Chain Reaction squad went home with the team prize too.
He added: "I didn't even attack. I kind of rolled off the front and got a gap and it held at around 20 seconds for a few kilometres.
"There was still a long way to go and I thought, 'what have I done? I'm going to get absolutely murdered for this if I get caught'. But I just persevered and luckily I didn't get caught, so it was a good day for An Post."
Mullen heads to Majorca on Wednesday with the Irish track team to prepare for the U-23 European Track Championships in Portugal at the end of the July.