Three-time Irish national road race champion Ryan Mullen (Bora-Hansgrohe) has said he "wasn't amped" to go to the UCI World Championships, joking that his Irish teammates were fearful of spider bites in Australia.
Yesterday the Irish national federation announced it would not be sending a team to the Worlds making it the first time since 1999 that there will be no Irish representation in the elite events.
Speaking at the Vuelta a España after news broke of Ireland's withdrawal from the event, Mullen told Cycling Weekly: "It's a shame, but I understand there are budget issues.
"Ultimately, I wasn't amped for going to Australia just to get dropped, I can do that in Europe, why would I want to go to Australia?”
The Bora-Hansgrohe rider has competed in the men’s elite road race in each of the last four editions of the championships, withdrawing before the finish line in all four.
“I understand, it's a lot of money, it's a long way to go, and logistically it's an absolute nightmare. I support the decision. I'm sure Eddie Dunbar could have put in a ride, but he probably also doesn't want to go to Australia and get bitten by a spider."
On Monday, Cycling Ireland cited financial and logistical issues in its rationale for skipping the World Championships, scheduled to take place in Wollongong, Australia, next month. As a result, no Irish riders will participate in the event for the first time since 1976.
Sean Kelly, who twice finished on the podium in the road race in the 1980s, said he believes rider interest in the Worlds was likely to have been a contributing factor in Cycling Ireland’s decision.
Speaking to Cycling Weekly on Tuesday, Kelly said: “You have to go through the list of riders and see who wanted to go and who was really keen to ride. You can’t just send them on a jolly down to Australia if they’re not in good shape at this moment.
“Sam Bennett, I’m not sure what were his thoughts on the circuit because we’ve heard it’s a little bit too difficult for the sprinters,” Kelly added. “A rider like [Eddie] Dunbar, if he was out there, you never know if he’s in good shape.”
In Kelly’s opinion, those likely to be most disappointed by the decision are the riders hopeful of competing in the under-23 events. “They would certainly be very keen to go,” he said, citing Archie Ryan as a possible rainbow jersey contender. The 20-year-old claimed Ireland’s highest ever result at the Tour de l’Avenir on Sunday, placing fourth in the general classification.
The UCI Road World Championships begin in Wollongong on 18 September, closing with the men’s elite road race on 25 September.
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