New face just popped up in the Irish peloton. Who is he?
Rory Townsend was one of the very best UK-based riders last year and was one of the standout performers in the Pearl Izumi Tour Series. He was especially prominent in Redditch where, riding for Pedal Heaven/RT, he was part of the winning team and wore the leader’s jersey on the night – as well as taking the fastest lap.
By Brian Canty
A new face popped up in the thick of battle on the home scene at the weekend; Rory Townsend.
Having been emerging in the UK of late as a very strong rider, he is also eligible to ride for Ireland.
The Bike Channel-Canyon man infiltrated breakaway groups away for very long periods in both races, but was denied victory in both.
In Carrick, 22-year-old Townsend was outnumbered in the break by four to one. And only Cigala had his measure on that particular afternoon.
He had no axe to grind with the men in blue afterwards and said he could do no more than second after a brave effort.
Top, leading Darragh O’Mahony as they ride across a big gap to the early breakaway. Above, second from left just being pipped by O’Mahony for victory (Photos by Sean Rowe)
He was visiting family in Ireland last week and availed of the opportunity to race against the best Irish riders.
And after getting in the early move he was confident of pulling out a result.
Alas, against the might of Aqua Blue Academy who had four men in the escape he ran out of legs when it came to the sprint and Cigala had just too much.
“I’m a bit disappointed not to win in front of the folks but Aqua Blue played a good game,” he said of the Carrick on Suir contest.
“They executed it perfectly, to be fair to them.”
Townsend is a quality rider and is a criterium specialist. He won a round of the TourSeries last year in Redditch and won the sprints competition in it.
With Irish lineage he can declare for Ireland – though he is remaining tight-lipped on that for now.
“This year I’ll be racing the elite road series and Tour Series again in the UK,” he said.
“And the team will be over to Ireland for the An Post Rás in May. I won’t make it as that’s crit season and I did quite well last year.
“Riding for Ireland is definitely something I’d like to do, but I won’t say too much on that until it comes off.”
He went to the Des Hanlon Memorial yesterday before flying back to the UK.
And over the course of the 152-kilometre race yesterday he delivered another top performance.
Only O’Mahony bettered him in a thrilling three-up sprint that also included Mark O’Callaghan (Aqua Blue Academy).
Both were arguably the men of the race having joined forces to bridge a near three-minute gap to the early breakaway.