Conor Dunne, the former U23 National Time-Trial Champion, looks set to ride for the An Post–Chainreaction Cycles team next season.
By Graham Healy
Neither Dunne nor the team has commented on any signing but informed sources have told stickybottle Dunne looks set to ride for the squad next year.
If the deal does indeed go ahead, he would increase the Irish presence in the team, which already counts Jack Wilson, Ronan McLaughlin, Sam Bennett and Sean Downey on its roster.
All of those riders look likely to stay for next year, though Bennett’s purple patch in the last couple of months may well secure for him a contract with a bigger outfit. His inclusion in the Irish team to ride alongside a line-up of established Irish professionals including Matt Brammeier, Nicolas Roche and Dan Martin will do no harm to his prospects of moving to a bigger squad.
Dunne would be a strong addition to the team, having raced in Belgium in recent years and been part of the Irish U23 national set up at major races such as the Nations Cup series and also at World and European Championships.
Ireland does not have a team in the U23 road race at the World Championships next week and with only two berths in the time trial, Dunne was just beaten for the second TT slot by a resurgent Marcus Christie this year.
However, that setback aside, Dunne has had a very good season and his moving to Continental level with An Post-Chainreaction would be a seamless continuation of the progress he has made in recent seasons.
Riding for Tipperary Carrick Iverk Produce in the Rás back in May, he broke away with Mike Northey with 20 kilometres remaining on stage 1 and outsprinted his breakaway companion in Longford to take the first yellow jersey.
The 21 year-old, whose grandparents are Irish, grew up in the UK but declared for Ireland three years ago. Dunne has raced in Belgium for the past number of years for VL Technics – Abutriek, and has had some other good results this season apart from his Rás stage win.
He was 2nd in a stage of the Ronde van de Provincie Oost-Vlaanderen last month and finished 6th on GC. He was also 4th in a kermesse in Vilvoorde earlier in the season, and was 2nd in the U23 time-trial at the National Championships.
His prowess as a tester and experience of Belgian racing would stand him in good stead to take some results in the shorter stage races on the An Post-Chainreaction team programme, assuming his signing is confirmed.
As a number of the team move on from An Post, we expect to hear about other new signings in the next few weeks, and we will keep you informed.
Article courtesy of www.stickybottle.com