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Dublin: 22 °C Tuesday 19 June, 2018
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Back in the saddle: Lavery and McLaughlin kick off their seasons in France

Cillian Kelly has the lowdown on the fortunes of Ireland’s cyclists over the past seven days.

Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

This past week saw some of the Irish professional cyclists get their seasons underway.

The An-Post Sean Kelly team are currently racing in the Étoile de Bessèges, a five day stage race. Irish riders Philip Lavery and Ronan McLaughlin are part of the eight man team taking part. Stage 1 was raced from Beaucaire to Bellegarde and was won in a bunch sprint by the Belarussian Yauheni Hutarovich (FDJ), winner of a stage in the Vuelta a Espana last year. Both Irish riders finished in a group 4’11″ back from the main peloton.

Despite planning to start his season with this race, Nicolas Roche was unable to start Tuesday’s 153km stage as he is yet to recover from a knee injury.

Lavery and McLaughlin also took part in Sunday’s Grand Prix Cycliste la Marseillaise. The Frenchman Jérémy Roy (FDJ) won having formed a breakaway with two other riders after only 10 kilometres. Roy attacked his breakaway companions Sylvain Georges (BigMat-Auber 93) and Julien Guay (Roubaix-Lille Metropole) to take a solo win in a race where he had previously finished 10th in 2005.

McLaughlin coasted home in a group containing over 75 riders who were actually all disqualified because they had finished too far behind Roy’s winning time of just over three and a half hours. So, although McLaughlin finished the race he was not rewarded with an official finishing time. Lavery actually didn’t finish, abandoning with just over 30km to race.

Warm-up

Further afield, David McCann of the Giant Kenda Pro Cycling Team took part in his first race of the season, the Tour de Langkawi, a ten day stage race which takes place in Malaysia. McCann finished the race in a respectable 43rd overall. He had previously said that he was only using the race as training for goals later in the year.

McCann’s Asian based team is now home to four Irish riders. The most notable of which is McCann himself who is the current Irish national time trial champion having won the event for the sixth time last year in County Sligo. The Belfast-born rider has previously won the Irish road race championships on three occasions and also won the Rás back in 2004. McCann, who turns 38 next month, had a remarkable year in 2010. He won a total of 10 races, only two riders won more professional cycling races in 2010, Mark Cavendish and André Greipel.

McCann, who has been racing in Asia since 2004, will have plenty of Irish company this year as he is joined by his three compatriots, David O’Loughlin, Martyn Irvine and Ryan Sherlock.

New recruit

O’Loughlin joins up having left the An Post-Sean Kelly setup. He, like McCann, is a multiple former winner of both the Irish road and time trial championships. Martyn Irvine was also a member of the An Post-Sean Kelly team back in 2006, but is now more at home in the velodrome. He was part of the bronze medal winning Northern Irish team pursuit team (along with McCann, Philip Lavery and Seán Downey) at last year’s Commonwealth Games. More recently Irvine won the Individual Pursuit as part of the Omnium event at the Beijing Track World Cup while taking 10th place overall. He also maintains a regularly updated blog in which he writes about his latest race news and training exploits.

The fourth member of the Asian-based Irish contingent is the Irish hill climb champion, Ryan Sherlock. He has spent his career thus far more focused on mountain biking, but having taken encouragement from some promising performances last year, Sherlock will turn his attention toward road racing in 2011. Sherlock, like Irvine, also maintains a blog which is well worth reading.

Lavery and McLaughlin both continue in the Étoile de Bessèges today as Stage two sees the riders travel 149km from Nîmes to Saint-Ambroix where another bunch sprint is expected.

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About the author:

Cillian Kelly  / Twitter: @irishpeloton

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