Ireland’s Ryan Mullen has come within a second of taking a medal in the men’s cycling time trial at the European Games in Minsk.
Mullen, who has previously finished fifth in the World Championships time trial and who was third in the 2015 Rás, clocked a time over the 28-kilometre Minsk city centre course that was only 0.96 seconds outside the bronze-medal-winning time of the Czech Republic’s Jan Barta.
Considered to be one of the world’s strongest time triallers, Mullen finished fourth, 38 seconds behind winner Vasil Kirienka of host nation Belarus, with Nelson Oliveira of Portugal in the silver-medal position 28 seconds behind the Belarussian.
Barta was a further nine seconds down.
In shades of the 1984 Olympic Marathon, Michael O’Loughlin came home sixth, only 51 seconds down on Mullen, with Lithuania’s Gediminas Bagdonas splitting the Irishmen in fifth spot.
Mullen was ranked in second spot at the first checkpoint 8.5km in, 5.68 seconds down on Kirienka, and was still third in the next two checkpoints before his agonising pipping on the finish line.
O’Loughlin was also third at his checkpoints, before the final competitors knocked him down the table slightly.
Speaking after the race, Mullen described the course as tricky, “On paper it looked like a really straightforward course, but it turned out to be one of those courses that you have to keep attacking.
“There was a lot of recovery in corners which brought down your average a bit, so you were getting more recovery than you realised and had to constantly ride over pace.
“It turned out to be a really hard effort, and I feel like I slightly misjudged it.
“I went overpaced in the first lap, and then I paid for it in the last ten minutes of the race.”
Still racing in the U23 category, Carrick-on-Suir’s O’Loughlin was pleased with his performance: “It feels good, I’m really happy with sixth.
“I wanted a top 10, and in that I thought I’d be ninth or tenth, but to finish sixth and close enough with the top five, I’m pretty overwhelmed with that.
“To have five guys who are on the world tour ahead of me, I’m happy with that.”
Marlen Reusser of Switzerland won the women’s time trial, having 15 seconds to spare over Dutch silver-medallist Chantal Blaak.
Britain’s Hayley Simmonds took bronze.
“I’ll take it on the chin” said Belfast boxer James McGivern this afternoon after he saw his Minsk 2019 campaign come to an end thanks to a unanimous decision loss at the hands of Armenia’s Hovhannes Bachkov.
This bout was always going to be a tough one for McGivern, facing the 2017 European Champion and World bronze medallist who asserted himself from the off, dictating the early pace of the match and hitting some hard blows. McGivern worked hard throughout the rounds, but Bachkov simply had too much in the tank, delivering some decisive body blows and controlling the pace of the bout to win out by a unanimous decision in the end.
“I’m tired - that was relentless,” McGivern admitted. “It was hard to get my game plan going but he’s European champion and this is my first senior elite tournament, so it’s a learning experience, I’ll take it on the chin and I’ll go back and learn. I’m just going to go away now, work at it and make it perfect.”
Later on this evening, Aoife O’Rourke will box her first bout of the Games, while Regan Buckley and Michael Nevin are boxing two big quarter-final bouts in a bid to move into the next round, where they would be guaranteed a minimum of a bronze medal.