There was disappointment for the Irish Cycling Team at the World Championships in Italy n Sunday, when all four cyclists were forced to withdraw from the Elite Men’s Road Race, due to crashes.
This year Ireland had entered the strongest team in recent years, with Dan Martin and Nicolas Roche considered among the pre-race favourites, as a result of their strong form this season. Treacherous road conditions, due to the torrential rain throughout the day, led to numerous crashes on the course, with only 61 of the 208 starters completing the 272km course. The World Title was won by Portugal’s Rui Costa, with Spain’s Joaquin Rodriguez and Alejandro Valverde taking Silver and Bronze. The UCI Road World Championships in Toscana, Italy, ran from 22nd – 29th September, with the Elite Men’s Road Race the last event on the schedule.
The 272km Road Race began with a 106km run into Florence, where the riders would then negotiate ten laps of a hilly and technical 16.6km circuit. This was the same circuit that had already proven to be difficult and testing in the other categories earlier in the week. However, the added challenge of rain ensured that the War of Attrition was heightened, and bad luck played a part in the bid of most Nations, and many top riders. Bennett and Roche were the first to suffer such misfortune.
Speaking after the race Head Coach Brian Nugent said “The team did everything right in the early part of the course, sitting towards the front of the race on the run into Florence. The first time around the circuit was just mayhem for everyone; it was one of those days. The conditions were atrocious, and a lot of teams experienced problems due to the weather, we had our fair share. Sam broke a few spokes on his front wheel at the top of the second climb, and then Nicolas crashed on the descent, Matt came back to help him back. They couldn’t get back on.
With Bennett, Brammeier and Roche out of the race, Martin was the next rider to come down.
Nugent said “Dan came down in the almost the same place as Nicolas on the following lap. A rider fell in front of him and there was nothing you can do about that. In the crash his bike slid away from him, it took him awhile to actually find it before getting on and chasing back. He chased for two laps, but never regained contact. It was unfortunate for a lot of countries, over half the riders were pulled out. Matt and Sam did a super job, but it was just unlucky that both Dan and Nicolas crashed.”
While it is disappointing for the team, after preparing for the World Championships, Nugent concluded by saying “The whole team effort this week was good. A lot of effort went in to providing a good environment, and this meant that the spirit was good on the team. All the riders committed 100% this week, but didn’t get their just deserves. There is a lot to build on for the future of the team.”
At the end of the UCI Road World Championships Ireland are walking away with 7th in the U23 Time Trial, 13th in the Elite Men’s Time Trial, and strong performances from the Irish Team in the Road Races on a tough circuit. Irish cycling has witnessed one of its best seasons in recent history, despite disappointment on the final day at the World Championships in Florence, Italy.
Elite Men’s Road Race
Gold Rui Costa (POR) 07:25:44
Silver Joaquin Rodriguez (ESP)
Bronze Alejandro Valverde (ESP) +16
DNF Sam Bennett (IRELAND)
DNF Matt Brammeier (IRELAND)
DNF Dan Martin (IRELAND)
DNF Nicolas Roche (IRELAND)