Scanlon battles to 20th as crash mars finish

DESPITE a ferocious last lap challenge Ireland’s Mark Scanlon had to settle for 20th place behind Francesco Chicchi of Italy in a spectacular finish to the men’s U-23 race at the world cycling championships in Zolder, Belgium, yesterday.

The Italian sprinted away from the carnage left by a crash that left a German rider seriously injured in the finishing straight to snatch the title from Hans Dekkers of Holland who appeared to have victory in his grasp with Francisco Guiterrez of Spain, who was involved in much of the earlier action, in the bronze medal position.

Afterwards the young German, the only rider not to get up from the debris after the crash, was removed to hospital on a drip as the other riders, including Mark Scanlon, were left wondering what might have been.

“I suppose the best we could have hoped for at that time was a top eight placing,” Ciaran McKenna, a member of Cycling Ireland’s High Performance Committee, admitted. “The team had done everything we could have expected them to do. It was a tremendous team performance and another courageous performance from Mark Scanlon.”

Scanlon had made the supreme effort shortly into the final lap when he got involved in a breakaway group that might have decided the race had the other members opted to work with him.

It quickly became clear that if Scanlon was going to win the title then he would have to do it alone. ‘Nobody was willing to work with him,” Ciaran McKenna said.

As a group they were going nowhere and the bunch were screaming up behind them.’

The British team, now down to four men after a second lap crash, the Danes, the Americans and the Italians were at the front and the group was reeled in before the final visit to the climb when another Antonio Buccerio of Italy sprinted forglory. He was chased down by the Russians with Scanlon still near thefront but he was surrounded on all sides into the finishing straight when the crash, caused by the rush to the front, forced him inside to the left and he was caught up in the traffic.

Denis Lynch and Gary McQuaid were both involved in the pile-up and while the Corkman escaped with only slight injuries Dubliner McQuaid hit the protective barriers and suffered some bruising.

They hardly deserved this after their display of courage in getting Scanlon to the finish unscathed. Along with Dermot Nally and Philip Duignan, they were never far from the front.

The Irish junior team of Corkmen Paudi O’Brien and Theo Hardwick, Andrew McQuaid, Michael Concannon and Nicolas Roche, whose father Stephen won the world championships, the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia back in 1987, will be in action in the junior race while Geraldine Gill from Navan will be in the women’s elite race. David O’Loughlin will be Ireland’s sole representative in the elite men’ s race tomorrow.

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