After a breakthrough performance at the Tour of Yorkshire, Eddie Dunbar has said he’ll be added to Sky’s successor Team Ineos’ roster for the Giro d’Italia, which starts in Bologna next Saturday.
The 22-year-old from Banteer in Co Cork faces his biggest and longest challenge yet as he takes on the three-week race which is touted by many professionals as being harder than the Tour de France.
Dunbar put in a dominant performance last week on the final stage of the Tour of Yorkshire, attacking in the closing kilometres with only his teammate Chris Lawless and Olympic Champion Greg Van Avermaet able to follow him. The stage was won by Van Avermaet but Dunbar gained time on his other rivals to finish on the podium. Chris Froome, who was using the event as preparation for the Tour de France, finished in 13th.
This performance did not go unnoticed by the Team Ineos management and Dunbar was informed he would be given the nod in place of his injured teammate Egan Bernal who was ruled out with a broken collarbone.
Dunbar had been aiming to ride the Giro d’Italia for some time but was derailed by a crash at the Tour of the Algarve in February.
“It was a goal of mine since the start of the year,” said Dunbar.
Then I had problems with injury, so I thought that it was out of the question but I’ve come back strong from injury.
"It will be a good race to go to and my first Grand Tour. For me it will be a dream to go to the Giro.”
In the absence of Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas, Team Ineos will go to the race without a clear team leader.
This will likely leave Dunbar with a free card to play and based on his performance in Yorkshire, a stage win would not be out of reach for the climbing star.
Ineos became the title sponsor of the team this month as Sky ended sponsorship after nearly 10 years backing the team.
Since it’s inception in 2010, the team has had several Irish riders among its ranks including Nicolas Roche, who now rides for Dutch team Sunweb, and the recently retired Philip Deignan.
Joining Dunbar will be Irish national champion Conor Dunne who got the green light to race from his team, Israel Cycling Academy, and will be on the start-line for the second Grand Tour of his career.
“I’m super excited for this one and grateful for the team as there was a lot of competition for places. said Dunne. “The porridge is packed up and I’m ready to rumble.”
The Giro d’Italia begins in Bologna on May 11 with an 8km time-trial runs from and the winner will be crowned after the final stage in Verona on June 2nd.
On the domestic front, Mark Dowling (Leinster) won the final stage of the Tour of Ulster in Banbridge while Conor Hennebry (Dan Morrissey/MIG/Pactimo) retained his leaders jersey to win the race overall.