Sam Bennett will break new ground tomorrow when he competes in the iconic Milan-San Remo.
The Bora-Argon 18 man has enjoyed a terrific start to the season, securing his first 2.HC-ranked win at the Tour of Qatar while proving a real menace in the sprints that decided many other races.
He bagged two top 10s in the WorldTour-ranked Tirreno-Adriatico last week, nicking third on the opening road stage.
And he’s been rewarded for that form with a start in the world’s longest one-day professional race.
At 298 kilometres, no other stacks up to the race known as the sprinters’ classic and Bennett admits he’s in for a real battle just to get to the finish tomorrow.
“It’s going to be way different to anything else I’ve ever raced,” he said of what’s in store.
“I’m feeling okay though, a little tired from Tirreno but that’s normal.
Sean Kelly is the only Irishman to win the race having done so in 1986 and again in 1992.
Meanwhile there’s a packed programme of events domestically this weekend with the big one being the Des Hanlon Memorial in Carlow.
Bryan McCrystal (Team ASEA) is the defending champion and with the help of teammates Damien Shaw and Roger Aiken he should challenge again.
But opposing him will be the man of the season so far, Sean McKenna.
The Aqua Blue man has taken six wins in five weekends for Timmy Barry’s Cork-based squad and he’ll be another firm favourite, as will his teammates Greg Swinand, Anthony Walsh and former Rás Mumhan winner Sean Lacey.
That race gets underway at 12 noon while there are races for all other categories with staggered start times. The A3s and juniors commence just after the A1s and A2s while the A4s and women will be after the A3s.
There’s also a full programme of underage races — U12, U14 and U16 — starting after the adult categories have departed.
Sign-on is from 9.30am in Graiguecullen GAA complex.
Further information is available at www.carlowcycling.ie
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