19 Year old becomes one of the youngest ever National Champs
Having taken the fastest time of the evening on Thursday night, Vitus Bikes Pro Ryan Mullen entered Sunday’s National Road Race Champs holding the Time Trial title. Clearly “on form” the 19 year old started Sunday’s National Road Race alongside team mates Sean Downey, Jack Wilson and Conor Dunne – four riders all of whom were capable of doing damage on the Mulyfarnham circuit.
Speaking to Stickybottle.ie ahead of the race Mullen admitted that he had learned from his previous experience
““I’ll just see how the race pans out and do what I can. Last year it just didn’t work out. I did a bit too much too early and had no legs in the end. I just paid the price for it really. I learned my lesson last year, so hopefully it will go a bit differently this year.”
As Sunday’s race started to unfold, the An Post – CRC team made a strong start with three of the four riders making the early 10 man break. In the closing three laps Dan Martin and Damien Shaw chased the leaders down hard resulting in Mullen pushing out front solo with a lap and a half to go.
“There were a lot of strong guys in the break,” said Mullen afterwards.
“We had three riders there and all the guys up there were strong powerhouses, so I kind of knew it would last most of the race. I didn’t think it could last the whole race. I was expecting Brammeier and Martin to come over at some point. I knew Martin and Shaw were coming but it was two of them against 10 of us and we were all working well together.”
At the start of the penultimate lap the “Flying Postmen” started a series of attacks.
“The second last time through the finish things started getting a bit nervous,” says Mullen.
“Sean (Downey) got away with Paidi and they got brought back. I went. I got brought back. There was a bit of cat and mouse going on. In the end I didn’t even attack. I kind of rolled of the front and got a gap and it held at around 20 seconds for a few kilometres. There was still a long way to go and I thought ‘what have I done? I’m going to get absolutely murdered for this if I get caught.”
The course however played into the hands of the big strong rouleur, Mullen opening up a 15 second gap immediately and building on it to finish with a minute and 14 seconds lead at the finish.
“There were no massive hills. I kind of had the power to get over the rollier ones. Towards the end I was suffering a bit but I just persevered and luckily I didn’t get caught. The lads obviously did a good job behind, so it was a good day for the team.”
The day ended up with a podium domination by the Vitus Bikes Pros with Downey getting second ahead of O’Brien and Wilson taking fifth, An Post Chain Reaction also went home with the team prize while Conor Dunne gave them a clean sweep of the U23 prizes, finishing 15th to take the bronze behind Mullen and Wilson.
“I didn’t expect today’s result whatsoever,” beamed a delighted Mullen after donning his shamrock jersey of national champion.