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Dublin: 12°C Wednesday 21 October 2020
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The 18 year-old Irish cyclist who met Eddy Merckx after a heroic race ... and what he said

When Eddie met Eddy…

IRISH CYCLIST EDDIE Dunbar has been making a real name for himself these past few seasons on the domestic scene but the 18 year-old’s career reached a new high in a recent race in France.

Riding for the U23 National team in a Nations Cup event known as Cote de Picardie in France last week, the Corkman stormed into a lead of over seven minutes at one point in the 170-kilometre event.

Try as they might to bring him back, the peloton were powerless to reel him in as he charged up the road, taking all the intermediate sprint and King of the Hills points on a 100k sojourn out front.

Alas, Dunbar would falter as the combined weight of chasing teams from Germany, Australia, the Netherlands and Great Britain hauled him back.

And though he didn’t win the race, his solo effort out front won him a legion of followers at home and abroad.

Even the greatest cyclist of all time, Eddy Merckx, who was famous for such long-range attacks in his heyday, was stunned by Dunbar’s strength.

The two came face-to-face on the podium after the event, with Dunbar receiving an award for being the most aggressive rider, as well as prizes for winning the Sprints and Mountains Classifications respectively.

Source: linformateur leclaireur/YouTube

Dunbar, a two-time Junior Tour of Ireland winner, road and time-trial champion said he was a bit taken aback when he met Merckx.

“It was just a bit crazy,” Dunbar recalled of the incident.

The fact it was an U23 race and there were really good names in there… Eddy Merckx came up to me and said ‘that was brilliant, well done’.

“And before I left the stage he came up again and said the same thing.

“When someone like that says it you don’t know how to react!

“It was an honour. I came back to the hotel, Twitter went mental and the response from people was unbelievable.”

Dunbar will now turn his attention to the Tour of Yorkshire over the May Bank Holiday.
There, the NFTO rider will take of some of the biggest names in the sport, including Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins.

You can follow Eddie Dunbar on Twitter @EddieDunbar

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About the author:

Brian Canty

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