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Dublin: 6°C Thursday 25 February 2021

An Post rider Connor Dunne on his hopes for the 2015 Rás

The former stage winner and yellow jersey wearer is “looking forward to mixing it up.”

IF CONOR DUNNE is planning on being inconspicuous at this Sunday’s An Post Rás, then he’s wasting his time.

For starters, he’s tall…very tall. All 6’8″ of him, and growing, will literally stand head and shoulders above everyone else in the race. Secondly, he’ll be wearing the most distinctive kit of the 200 or so riders who’ll start, that of the An Post Chainreaction team.

The fact their sponsors are also the race chief backers means extra pressure is on them and when everyone knows how important the race is to An Post, everyone follows the ‘postmen’ and their every move.

Thirdly, and on a more personal level, Dunne is a former stage winner and yellow jersey wearer from 2013. This means any move he’s likely to make is going to be tracked very closely.

Felix English, Sean Downey, Conor Dunne, Peter Hawkins and Paul Griffin Conor Dunne (centre) with his teammates back at the 2011 Post Ras. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

But the British-born-declared Irishman isn’t too bothered about any of that.

“I feel quite a lot of pressure from myself, like any athlete, but I feel I perform better when I’m relaxed and enjoying racing so I’ll just focus on that,” he said.

“I try not to get too bogged down with the anxieties as they’re counter-productive to what I’m trying to do.”

Third in the National U23 Championships to his An Post Chainreaction teammates Ryan Mullen and Jack Wilson last year, Dunne comes into the race on the back of some good form, having went close to a stage win at the Tour of Azerbaijan last week.

If that didn’t make others sit up and take note, his embarrassing tumble in the race certainly has. Eurosport even featured his ‘head over heels’ into a bush on their clips of the week.

“The Azerbaijan bush roll” as Dunne called it, “happened because I knew the big mountain was coming up so thought I’d take a lie down and catch a breather before tackling the thing,” he laughed.

Luckily for him there are no big mountains in the Rás next week, so he’s optimistic he can do something either for himself or the team.

“Hopefully I can ride aggressively this year and work together with my team after missing out last year. I think any of us can get results so I’m looking forward to mixing it up,” he explained.

“It’s going to be hard with a lot of teams looking at us more to work so we’re definitely going to have to bring the strong legs next week.

“The form feels good at the moment and the body seems to have coped with the extra workload so I’m happy with how things are going. I think we can get some good results this week.”

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Brian Canty

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