Ciaran Fallon/INPHO

Silver lining as Ryan Mullen misses out on world title by fraction of a second

Mullen stormed to second in today’s U23 time-trial in Ponferrada, Spain.

IRELAND’S RYAN MULLEN has ended the country’s 16-year wait for a medal at the UCI World Championships when he stormed to a sparkling silver in today’s U23 time-trial in Ponferrada, Spain.

Not since Mark Scanlon won the gold medal in the men’s junior road race in Holland in 1998 has an Irishman returned home with silverware of any kind from the World Championships but today, that long wait is over.

Mullen set an eye-watering time of 43:50:42 for the 36.15 kilometre test which had him in the gold medal position up until Australian Campbell Flakemore beat him by a heart-breaking 0.48 seconds.

It was even more gutting given the fact Flakemore was the third last rider of 63 off today and it looked for a while as if Mullen had done enough having been the fastest rider on the first two check points.

Switzerland’s Stefan Kueng rounded out the podium with a time nine seconds slower than Mullen’s.

Mullen looked crestfallen as Flakemore sprinted up the finishing straight to just edge him out of the gold medal position, but the 20-year-old Irishman can take enormous heart from this performance and look forward to Friday’s road race with a huge amount of confidence.

Today’s result represents a remarkable – and unique – result for Irish cycling as the An Post Chainreaction man became the first rider to bring home a medal of any colour in a time-trial from the World Championships.

Mullen was the ninth last rider off and as soon as he got into his rhythm it was clear he was on a good day.

That was underlined by the fact that he was well in front at the first and second time checks.

In fact, he was the only rider to go over 53kph and under 14 minutes at the first time check and he bested the time of previous leader Rafael Reis of Portugal by a whopping 20 seconds.

Mullen’s virtual lead would dwindle as the race progressed but he was still five seconds ahead at time check number two, that coming after 23 kilometres.

Then came through the time checks of the riders who started after Mullen and though the Irishman was still ahead, the margins became ever smaller.

Approaching the finish it was clear only Flakemore would trouble him and coming down the finish straight, the Australian really gave it everything as Mullen watched on from the seat of the virtual leader just beside the finish line.

And he could hardly believe what had happened as Flakemore as the 22-year-old just did enough to usurp Mullen. We’ll have reaction to this later…

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