By Shane Stokes
AG2R Prévoyance duo Philip Deignan and Mark Scanlon are both likely to miss Sunday’s national road race championships, which will take place in Westport. The ProTour level duo have been off form this season, with Deignan struggling to return to full fitness after he crashed in the first race of the season and broke his collarbone. Tests conducted recently showed that he had contracted glandular fever several months ago, unbeknownst to him and the team, and he has now been advised to rebuild very gradually in order to avoid a relapse.
"Philip is seeing a doctor in Belgium in order to get back from this," said Irish Olympic manager designate Frank Campbell. "He is currently off the bike and will be starting back from scratch very soon. He has to take things very gently over the next few weeks in order to build up again, and unfortunately that rules him out of the national championships."
Although Scanlon has not officially withdrawn from the race, it is believed that he too will miss Sunday’s event due to poor form. After a tough 2005, the former world junior champion started well this season but then suffered from a drop in form in mid-March due to a tooth abscess. He was called into the Tour of Italy at short notice and then retired from the race on stage 12.
Scanlon rode the Tour de France two years ago, becoming the first Irishman to do so in 11 years. However, since then he has struggled with illness, injury and poor morale. His contract with AG2R Prévoyance is due to end this year and so he will be under pressure to perform in the second half of the season in order to ensure a good deal for 2007 and beyond.
Scanlon won the world junior championships in 1998 and has taken two Irish senior road race titles since then. He was the silver medallist last year, taking second behind defending champion David O’Loughlin and ahead of third-placed David McCann.
The Irish championship programme gets underway on Sunday with the 56 mile women’s road race.