Delahaye, a former international rider himself, has been suitably impressed by 18-year-old Dunbar’s performances this year to brand him a big medal hope against the world’s elite.
“We think Eddie has the capacity to podium,” said the Dubliner. “Having looked at his competitors, having seen him on the national and international stage, knowing what he can do, the type of circuit the race is on Saturday, he has the potential to podium.
“Obviously a top five or a top 10 is a huge result as well but he has medal potential. He’s displayed that all year, the last two years. He’s a different rider this year to last, better skills, much smarter, he knows who to look out for, he rides clever and if it comes together for him on the day, he can go for the podium.”
Two-time Junior Tour of Ireland winner Dunbar leads a five-man Irish team: fellow Corkman Dylan O’Brien, Michael O’Loughlin from Carrick-on-Suir, Roscommon’s Daire Feeley and Limerick’s Stephen Shanahan in the event.
“The course is pretty much up and then straight down, it is tough,” explained Delahaye of the 127km route in Ponferrada. “For the amount of laps they have the climb is going to take its toll but I think it suits Dunbar. He needs to stay in contention towards the front part of the field and bide his time. We know he doesn’t fade so we’ll be encouraging him to hold fire until the end.”
Meanwhile, Nicolas Roche finished a disappointing 41st in yesterday’s elite men’s individual time-trial as Bradley Wiggins cemented his name as the greatest all-round rider of the modern era. Wiggins set a blistering time of 56:25.52 for what was his first ever gold medal on the road at the World Championships.
The Team Sky star won by 26 seconds from three-time winner Tony Martin (Germany) with Dutchman Tom Dumoulin third 14 seconds back. Roche crossed the line 3:50 down on Wiggins.