Dunne talks riding Giro as Irish champ and after birth of new baby son

Posted on: May 10th, 2019
Conor Dunne Tour Antalya
Conor Dunne will be looking for better weather in Italy than he got earlier in the season in Turkey, above. He sounds in good form and up for the fight.

Conor Dunne is facing in his second career Grand Tour at Giro 2019, though the Irish champion has been as busy away from the bike as he has one it of late.

The 27-year-old, now in his sixth season in the pro bunch, has just become a father. Dunne’s partner, Stacey Kelly, gave birth to the couple’s first child last week.

It means while he is excited looking ahead to the Giro with Israel Cycling Academy, leaving home for the race was harder this time around.

“I became a father last Wednesday so it’s been an incredible week,” he said as he set out from Dublin airport.

“I’ve got a beautiful son, Jesse Daniel Dunne, and his incredible mother back home doing great

“So it’s been a really tough goodbye but it’s been a great week together to get to know each other.

“It was very hard to say goodbye but I’m looking forward to the Giro at the same time.”

On stage in Bologna, second from right, in the Irish champion’s kit with some of his team
Dunne, far left, with the Israel Cycling Academy team for the Giro.

Dunne said he had known for a long time he was riding the Giro so had lots of time to prepare.

“The team’s been really good,” he said of Israel Cycling Academy; a squad he only joined in the off season.

“I had a really busy programme at the start of the year and then had time at home in April to get the training in and get ready for the baby as well.

“I got myself in really good shape. I think I’m in a good place. I freshened up this week to get ready but the hard work has been done a few weeks ago.

“We’ve to a strong team at this Giro, some strong riders in good condition and I’ll be helping them out a lot.

“Also I’ll be going for some opportunities myself; seeing how the race unfolds and seeing what may present itself.”

Dunne carries the Irish champion’s jersey on his back going into the race having won a great national championship road race in Sligo last July.

It means Irish fans get to see the jersey on one of the sport’s biggest stages in coming weeks.

And if past performances are anything to go by, we should see the Irish livery up the road at some point.

“I’ll definitely get it my best,” Conor Dunne said of going on the attack, “for sure; get the shamrocks up the road, it would be great.

“I’m super proud to do it in the national jersey. It’s a really big honour. So hopefully I can do it justice and give it a good go.”

Having ridden the Vuelta two years ago with Aqua Blue Sport, Dunne knows what a Grand Tour feels like.

Asked what he expected from this Giro, he joked: “A lot of suffering. It will be a tough three weeks for sure, no matter who you are. You can never really prepare yourself for that.

“I’ll just take each day as it comes; take confidence from my first Grand Tour and try and learn from that experience; put it into practice this time and give it a go.”

Looking further ahead than the Giro, Dunne said he would be back at the National Road Championships at the end of June in Derry.

“I’ll be looking forward to it,” he said of his plans to return to the event that he won last year.

“It was a great moment for me, winning the champion’s jersey last year. And it would be great to defend it again.

“I’ve heard it’s a tough course. It’s always good to have a tough course at the nationals, to make it as hard as possible.

“The riders all make it hard anyway. It’s always such a hard race; just taking lumps out of each other. You go so deep and you end up absolutely blitzed.”

For now, though, he said he had the not so small matter of a Grand Tour to ride before thinking of trying to win championship gold again.