Eddie Dunbar (22) on the eve of the Giro: 5 talking points

Posted on: May 10th, 2019
Eddie Dunbar, second from right, with Team Ineos at last night’s presentation in Bologna ahead of the Giro d’Italia 2019 start.

Eddie Dunbar is in the Giro for Team Ineos; a team without a clear leader and with the squad saying its young charges will attack this race.

It’s a huge juncture in his career and one that has come a little earlier than expected.

But he goes into the race with no fear and if he holds his form and stays safe – and enjoys a bit of luck – the sky is the limit over the next three weeks.

A big Giro could be the makings of his career for the months and years ahead.

Dream start

Since the collapse of Aqua Blue Sport last August, Dunbar has barely put a foot wrong. He was snapped up by Team Sky who signed him for the remainder of the 2018 season and for this year.

After joining the team he went to a series of races in Italy and blew team apart for Gianni Moscon.

Eddie Dunbar has settled in well at Team Ineos

This year he rode very strongly in the Tour de la Provence; among the climbers’ select group on all of the harder stages and finishing 7th overall.

A late attack on the final stage was just caught with 1km to go but would have pushed him to 2nd overall had it been successful.

A crash in Portugal would follow, forcing him out of racing for five weeks. However, his form has been so good of late that that incident is merely a footnote now.

He went to the Tour de Yorkshire, climbed with the best and on the last stage blew the race apart.

He was one of the only three riders in that race to finish in the front group on all four stages; race winner and Team Ineos team mate Chris Lawless and Olympic champion Greg van Avermaet (CCC Team) the others.

And now he finds himself in a Giro team without a clear leader and with a brief to attack more than his team usually does. He couldn’t have scripted it better.

Future contract

Dunbar has only signed for Team Ineos for this year. It means he is looking for a new deal now, either with Team Ineos or outside it.

With the way things have gone so far, he may very well opt to stay where he is, on a minimum two-year deal.

The fact Ineos has assumed the backing of the team from Sky makes it even more attractive to him.

The budget, remarkable as it sounds, will be higher now. And with a billionaire backer new to the sport signing the cheques, the current support looks solid for at least the next five years.

Even if Jim Ratcliffe becomes bored with pro cycling, as Oleg Tinkov did, it will be several years before that boredom kicks in.

It means Dunbar now finds himself in the sport’s richest team, which just got richer, having already impressed so much just a few months into the season he’s been given a Grand Tour call-up.

Whatever contract he signs for next year and beyond, his performances towards the back end of last year and so far this year, along with his Giro call-up, mean his star has rocketed, and his earning potential with it.

Chances within Team Ineos

A real concern among Irish fans when Dunbar sighed for Team Ineos, Team Sky as it was at the time, was the fact he may not get chances of his own riding for the British WorldTour squad.

It is a team when the many have served the few.

Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and, to a lesser extent, Geraint Thomas have gotten the full support of the team to win a combined six Tours and one Vuelta to date. And everything else has come second.

Even in the events leading up to Grand Tours, the domestiques have been expected to put their own ambitions aside.

Dunbar has come a long way very fast, but he is handling it really well

But already Dunbar has had his own chances. He was leader of the team Tour de la Provence as it progressed.

And he was also able to attack the final stage of the Tour de Yorkshire and now he goes into the Giro with an attacking brief.

This is a team in transition. The big riders haven’t quite left the stage. But there is now a queue of impressive young guns side-stage ready to displace the bigger, older stars.

Dunbar is coming into the team at the right time; when the opportunity to attack is not being confined to a couple of riders.

Form and outlook

Philippe York made a very interesting observation in recent days about Eddie Dunbar being drafted into the Giro line-up.

She said the Irish 22-year-old has been called up so late he will go into the race with a fresher mind than those who have known for months they were riding.

That fresher state of mind, combined with Dunbar’s form, and the fact he has no clear team leader to ride for, is a perfect combination for an attacking rider like him.

We’re trying not to get too carried away (honestly – Ed) but the conditions for Dunbar to excel and pull of something very big indeed look perfect.

If he stays crash-free, as all riders looking for success must, he could come out of this race having climbed even further up the cycling food chain and with his first international pro victory, or victories, in the bag.

Public breakthrough

The Irish public is very familiar with one bike race; the Tour de France. But, at a push, they also understand the Giro and Vuelta.

Ireland is a country where injury news about a journeyman inter county footballer would get higher billing on the sports news than a major international result by one of our cyclists.

But the Grand Tours are different. If Dunbar could bag a stage he would, for the first time, push himself to the forefront of mainstream media coverage.

That would mean a major breakaway for himself and for Irish cycling.

The cycling community already knows he’s a rising star, and has been for years. It’s very possible the general public are about to hear the news. A result in the Giro registers in the Irish media.