Dan Martin finished 26th in the bunch sprint for gold at the 2017 UCI Road World Championships in Bergen, Norway today. Martin was the highest Irish finisher on a day where two Irish riders featured in the break for most of the race; Conor Dunne and Sean McKenna. The world title went to Slovakia’s Peter Sagan for the third year in a row. Norway’s Alexander Kristoff won silver on home turf ahead of Michael Matthews (Australia).
Martin was surprised to finish so strongly saying “Just to get to the start line is an achievement today – I was diagnosed with a broken back eight weeks ago. It’s been a really hard, long season. I hoped to finish today, so to be in the front group is a big surprise.”
“That was a great performance from the team today,” Martin added. “Sean and Conor were in the break, and did a great job flying the flag out there. Conor put me in position for when it really started to get hard in the race too.”
Martin said “We really rode a great race as a team, and it was great to have five riders in the pro race. It’s a good performance for the whole team on a course that didn’t really suit us, to be honest.”
McKenna and Dunne attacked at the start, building a gap of over seven minutes on the road. The two Irish men were in a group of seven riders and kept their lead for over 180km, when the main peloton pushed hard on the 17.8km circuit.
This was the first Elite World Championships for McKenna, and the significance of his effort was not lost the Dubliner – “This was one of the best days I’ve ever had on the bike – I was willing to do anything in the break. My dad was on the cobbled climb and every time I passed I saw him smile. You’ve no idea how many races he brought me to and I was last in every single one, and I was just in the break in the World Championships – that’s unbelievable!”
Have completed his first Grand Tour this month – the Vuelta a Espana – Dunne felt strong today, saying “I felt really good today – it was a shame we couldn’t go further in the break – we got brought back a couple of laps earlier than we hoped. Then I felt good in the bunch, and just got popped out the back in the climb.”
Once the early break was caught by the peloton, Dunne remained in the bunch until one lap to go, and was instrumental in ensuring Martin was is in good position when the pressure came on in the closing laps. Martin said“The race really started with four to five laps to go. The pace heated up, and it was very, very hard. There was a split at the top, and I was just at the right side of the split.”
Roche got caught out with a pile up in the closing kilometres of the race, resulting in a 34th place finish. Disappointed he said “It was a great race, but not for me. There was a pile up at the bottom of the climb and I was last one off the back with Boasson-Hagen (NOR).”
Today’s Road Race was the final one in a great week of racing for the Irish Team at the World Championships in Norway. Next up for the Irish team is the European Track Championships next month.
ELITE MEN’S ROAD RACE:
Gold Peter Sagan (SVK) 6:28:11
Silver Alexander Kristoff (NOR) +0
Bronze Michael Matthews (AUS) +0
26th Dan Martin (IRL)
33rd Nicholas Roche (IRL)
126th Ryan Mullen (IRL)
DNF Conor Dunne (IRL)
DNF Sean McKenna (IRL)