Flier Mullen the fancy for cycling TT

Ryan Mullen is the hottest of favourites for the Elite national time-trial championships that take place in Wexford today — though defending champion Nicolas Roche will pose a huge threat.

Mullen, one of the world’s most talked about riders against the clock, is coming off the back of a strong showing at the Tour de Suisse and if he has recovered from that week-long race he should win on the 34km course with something to spare.

He was third last year behind Eddie Dunbar and Roche but was hampered by injuries picked up at the ZLM Tour. His preparation this time around has been really good, in comparison. Roche was irresistible in 2016 when he won the title and will still pose a big threat, but Mullen will take some stopping.

Marcus Christie should also challenge, as should Bryan McCrystal, while up-and-coming U23 rider Michael O’Loughlin (Team Wiggins) is a quality rider against the clock.

Christie could definitely medal and his ride in a 25-mile TT at the weekend proves his form. He clocked 48:31 at the Father’s Day 25 on the Woodgree A26 course near Ballymena. It is a long way off the sub-47 he clocked in Wales in 2013 but given his goal is the championships he will be in the shake-up.

“I did a 46:41 in Wales in 2013, Ryan Mullen beat me by four seconds that day,” he said.

“But some of the British courses are ridiculously fast compared to here.

“Last weekend wasn’t super fast compared to what I’ve done before, but on a Sunday morning I’m happy with it. But it’s all about today.

“I’m running a bit behind with lack of racing but I’m looking forward to how I fare with a bit of structured TT training against a quality field.”

One man who won’t be racing is Sam Bennett as he is putting all his eggs in Sunday’s road race basket.

However, his preparation was hit by an airline losing his bikes.

“I have two bikes so I’ve my training bike to race,” he said of the incident that happened after the Tour of Slovenia recently where he won two stages. “I’m disappointed with them because both times I’ve flown with them, they lost my stuff.

“And now there’s the hassle of building the bike and getting the position sorted.”

Despite the upheaval, the Carrick-on-Suir man goes into Sunday’s elite men’s title race among the hottest favourites.


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