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Gillespie, McDunphy, O’Loughlin launch Team Ireland at Worlds

Posted on: September 24th, 2018

Michael O’Loughlin was 8th in the Worlds TT as a junior. He’d love a big results in Innsbruck after a season with no shortage of hurdles (Photo: Jessica Osouf)

 

Irish cyclists launch nation’s Innsbruck Worlds

 

The trade team time trials may have gotten the action underway at the World Road Championships yesterday but today it’s the turn of the national teams to get going.

On the first day of action for nations in Innsbruck, the junior women’s time trial and then men’s U23 TT feature Irish riders.

Our young golden girl Lara Gillespie is Ireland’s only representative in the women’s junior race. She is at the start of her cycling journey but already she has proven very impressive indeed.

Last  year she scored a silver medal in the TT at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Gyor, Hungary.

Since then she has turned junior and in January won the Irish elite cyclocross title and the junior road crown in June.

She later went to the World Track Championships, in August. While she rode well she endured some back luck and came away without a medal.

But she got back in the saddle less than two weeks later at the Europeans. She won silver in the individual pursuit. Furthermore, she claimed a brilliant gold in the points race.

Against that background, she goes into these Worlds with a fantastic season already under her belt. But with her class anything is possible.

At the very least, the first-year junior will bank valuable experience this week riding the test and junior road race.

But it is the TT that comes first and Lara Gillespie was due to get her effort underway today, Monday, at 9.46am. She is one of 45 riders in the junior women’s field.

 

Conn McDunphy at the Europeans this year. Lara Gillespie will ride her third Worlds of 2018 in Innsbruck, having already competed at cyclocross and on the track. Off-road she rode in the U23 race despite being 16 years old at the time and just weeks out of the U16 category. On the homepage: Gillespie is crowned European champion on the track last month.

 

Gillespie (17) is off 21st of the field in what will be her first World Road Championships ride.

Having been so successful already,  including medalling in a major international TT, it should be very interesting to see what she can do in the 19.8km test  in Austria.

After Gillespie, Conn McDunphy is the next rider up in the Irish colours. He rides the U23 TT and he is off 11th rider of the 71 men in the field.

McDunphy rolls down the starter’s ramp in Innsbruck at 1.55pm for his 27.7km race against the clock.

Michael O’Loughlin also rides the same event. He is off a little later in the starting order. O’Loughlin begins at 2:50pm.

The U23 riders have had two very different seasons. O’Loughlin is more established at this level and is coming to the end of his third year with UK-based Continental level Team Wiggins.

Injury sidelined him for a long time early in the year. He returned in time for the National Road Championships in June.

And though he didn’t have much racing in his legs,  he won the U23 TT and was 4th in the road race, taking U23 bronze.

He also rode the Tour de l’Avenir on the Irish team and was up the road several times, taking 4th on a stage.

He was 8th in the junior TT at the Worlds back in 2014. So on his day he can have a say in the TT at these Worlds in Innsbruck.

O’Loughlin does not have huge miles on the clock at this stage of the season. And after a frustrating campaign he will look to nail a solid Worlds and has the class to surprise today.

McDunphy has enjoyed a season marked by progress; enjoying his first full year at Continental level.

 

Season of new experiences

Last year he went from his home club Lucan CRC to Raleigh GAC halfway through the season. He then signed for anther Continental team, Holdsworth Pro Racing, for this season.

McDunphy has gained some very valuable experience riding abroad, for his trade and Ireland, this year.

Indeed, he has used the 2018 season to become a more permanent fixture in the national set up. His inclusion in this Ireland team is a further step along that path.

And while he does not have O’Loughlin’s experience at this level, that won’t stop him giving it a really good crack today.

The TT course is undulating and technical. The direction of the wind has been changing in Innsbruck and the forecast predicts it may rain, meaning it won’t be boring.

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