McCarthy, O’Loughlin best of Irish at European Games, Belarus

Posted on: June 24th, 2019
Robbie McCarthy in the group during the closing stages of the elite men’s race at the European Games in Minsk, Belarus, yesterday.

Robbie McCarthy and Michael O’Loughlin were Ireland’s best finishers in the elite men’s road race at the European Games in Belarus yesterday.

McCarthy placed 30th some 54 seconds behind solo winner Davide Ballerini of Italy.

O’Loughlin was in the same group as McCarthy and placed 53rd. The 55-rider group the two Irish were in was sprinting for 12th place.

All of the Irish team finished the 180km event in Minsk, Belarus; Ryan Mullen placing 73rd at 1:13 and Matt Teggart 89th at 6:14.

Mark Downey was also in the Irish team and came home in 99th place at 10:47.

After a three-man group escaped and gained about four minutes early in the contest the Italians along with the Irish and a couple of other nations worked to ensure the escapees would be caught.

Once they were recaptured, all of the Irish team was in the reduced peloton going into the final laps but missed a key move going off the front.

From that group Davide Ballerini jumped clear. When the group he had attacked from stalled he got a gap and hit out hard for home.

Some 16 seconds after the winner crossed the line, 32-year-old Estonian Alo Jakin led home a three-man group for silver.

Daniel Auer of Austria was next, claiming the bronze medal while Alexandr Riabushenko missed out.

From Belarus, Riabushenko was competing in front of a home crowd. However, in the three-man sprint for silver he was beaten to the medals and had to be content with 4th on the day.

Ireland has a big chance of a medal with Ryan Mullen in the TT tomorrow. Mullen has already been successful in major championships, taking silver in the U23 Worlds TT in 2014.

He was also 5th in the elite Worlds TT in 2016 and won bronze in the Europeans test in 2017 before placing 6th in the same race last year.

The week before last he placed 5th in the TT stage at Baloise Belgium Tour (2.HC) and may have won but for a slipped chain.

Clearly in good form of late, he will go into tomorrow’s contest as one of the favourites for a medal and could take the title on a good day.

Davide Ballerini takes the European title for Italy in Minsk