Top 10 riders to have come through An Post

A look at the Irish team's alumni

After an unsuccessful sponsorship search, Monday brought news that the An Post-Chain Reaction team run by Sean Kelly and Kurt Bogaerts is folding. The team had raced at Continental level since its founding in 2006.

With 11 years of racing on the board, it's no surprise that An Post has brought through a number of riders who have since gone on to see success at Pro Continental and WorldTour level. Here are 10 of the best.

Sam Bennett (2011-13)

During his time at the team, Sam Bennett, who grew up in Sean Kelly's hometown of Carrick-on-Suir, became national U23 champion and won stages of the Tour of Britain and the An Post Rás.

Since then the sprinter has raced for Bora-Hansgrohe, the German team that stepped up to the WorldTour this season. The 27-year-old came close to his big breakthrough at this year's Giro d'Italia - he picked up four podium spots - but ended 2017 strongly with a win at the Münsterland Giro and four stages of the Tour of Turkey.

Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) celebrates his fourth win at the Tour of Turkey

Ryan Mullen (2014-15)

Another Irishman, Ryan Mullen will be moving to Trek-Segafredo next season, having spent the last two years at Cannondale-Drapac. Still just 23, the time triallist is improving year-on-year.

His time with An Post brought national titles in the road race and time trial, as well as silver at the time trial in the 2014 U23 Worlds. The 2016 eason saw him take fifth in the time trial at the Qatar Worlds, while this year he swept the Irish national championships and grabbed bronze in the European Championships TT.

Matthew Brammeier (2009-10)

Five-time national champion (four on the road and one in the TT), Matt Brammeier took his first title back in 2010 with the team. Since then he has raced for five different teams, including HTC, Quick Step and Dimension Data.

Next season the 32-year-old Irishman continues with the ninth team of his career, the Irish-based Pro Continental team Aqua Blue Sport.

Matt Brammeier with the Qhubeka charity bike

Xandro Meurisse (2015)

The Belgian spent a solitary year at An Post after coming through the Lotto-Soudal development system. Tenth overall at the 2015 Tour of Britain was a highlight - one which he improved upon the following year with seventh and the mountains jersey at new team Wanty-Groupe Gobert.

Meurisse remains at the Belgian team, with whom he finished second at the Tour de Luxembourg and Volta Limburg Classic in 2017.

Owain Doull (2014)

Cardiff-born Owain Doull only raced with An Post for one season, but during that time he achieved results that signaled his future quality. Fourth at the U23 Ronde van Vlaanderen stood out, as did an overall victory at the amateur proving ground Le Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux.

Since then he has won Olympic gold as part of Great Britain's team pursuit squad, while a road highlight was his third place at the 2015 Tour of Britain with Team Wiggins. Currently preparing for his second season with Team Sky, the talented 24-year-old will be one to look out for.

Owain Doull (Team Sky)

Mark McNally (2010-14)

After four years with the team, Mark McNally moved sideways to British Continental squad Madison-Genesis in 2015, but has since raced for Wanty-Groupe Gobert. Always aggressive, the Liverpudlian won the Tour of Britain mountains jersey in his last year with An Post, while 2017 saw him take the race's sprints competition.

Andrew Fenn (2011)

Since Andy Fenn's year at An Post, he has gone on to ride for two of the biggest teams around in Quick Step and Sky. Next season, his seventh as a pro, is his second with Aqua Blue Sport.

During his time at An Post, Fenn took third at the U23 Worlds road race in Copenhagen and fifth at Paris-Roubaix Juniors. Since then highlights have included two race wins at the 2012 Mallorca Trophy with Quick Step.

Gediminas Bagdonas (2011-12)

The Lithuanian spent two successful seasons at An Post before moving to his current team, AG2R La Mondiale. A national champion on the road and in the time trial with An Post, he also won stages at the Tour of Britain and An Post Rás - a race where he took the overall title in 2011.

Now 31, Bagdonas plays more of a team role at the French squad but has come close to reclaiming his national jersey several times.

Gediminas Bagdonas (AG2R La Mondiale)

Shane Archbold (2013-14)

The mulleted New Zealander, who's on the move from Bora-Hansgrohe to Aqua Blue next season, missed much of 2017 recovering from back surgery. An ex-track rider, Archbold won gold in the scratch race at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. He has spent the past few years working as a lead-out rider for fellow An Post alumni Bennett, playing a key role in the Irishman's success at the Tour of Turkey. 

Conor Dunne (2014-15)

National time trial champion as an U23, Dunne has gone on to podium in the senior road race twice. The first time came in 2015 with An Post, and again this season with his current team Aqua Blue.

The highlight of his post-An Post career was his 2016 win at the Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic, the Paris-Roubaix of the East Midlands. He made his Grand Tour debut with Aqua Blue at this year's Vuelta a Espana. Standing 6'8" tall, Dunne is the tallest man in professional cycling.

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