Ryan Mullen (Ireland) came into the U23 full of hope and with expectations high after his second place in the event from 2014. However the Irishman, who will ride for Garmin next season, was unable to trouble the contenders on Monday with a rain-effected ride disrupting his performance.
Mullen went off in final wave of riders, just as light drizzle began to fall on the course and he was way down in 25th place after the first time check at 7 kilometres. He rallied in the second phase of the 29.9 kilometre course, improving to 17th place before eventually finishing 11th, 49 seconds down on winner Mads Schmidt (Denmark).
At the finish his dejected figure told a story of what might have been as he slumped in a chair.
“It was a disaster with the weather,” he told Cyclingnews.
“It’s just the luck of the draw really so the guys who went off at twelve had dry conditions so when I went off there was drizzle and I could feel my wheel sliding a few times.”
The Richmond course had technical sections, along with drags, and long flat sections, but every time Mullen was forced to take a corner he had to use the breaks on the slippery roads. Each corner cost him valuable time and despite a late comeback - he had the fourth quickest third sector, the damage was already done.
“I don’t know what the roads are like here and especially in the middle of the course I didn’t think that it was worth taking massive risks. I knew that I was down in the splits so I just tried to make up as much time as possible in the straights. It’s just one of those days.”
“I didn’t feel bad out there, and I felt like I was on a reasonable day but some of the other guys were on better days. The ones who went off with me near the end, we were all lower down the field because we couldn’t take the corners at speed. There was just drizzle the whole time. I just didn’t know how hard I could push because I noticed that there was oil on the course when I rode reconnaissance. What else can I say? I’m just disappointed that I couldn’t do a ride for the guys here. What happens out there was uncontrollable. I didn’t know it was going to rain.
Mullen will not compete in the road race later this week but his season has been far from a failure. He claimed an impressive third place in the Ras earlier this year, and was fourth in the European Championship time trial. Soon, though, his attention will turn to riding with Garmin, who he raced with at the Tour of Britain earlier this month.
“I’m going home from here and then I’ll link up with the new team for a training camp later on.”