McLaughlin planning more aggression in Tour of Britain as he seeks worlds selection
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Thursday, September 13, 2012

McLaughlin planning more aggression in Tour of Britain as he seeks worlds selection

by Shane Stokes at 12:25 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, World Championships, Tour of Britain
An Post Sean Kelly rider in season-best form

Ronan McLaughlinThe most aggressive rider on yesterday’s stage of the Tour of Britain and arguably the strongest of those in the day-long break, Ronan McLaughlin has said he’ll continue pushing hard to secure a place on the Irish team for the world road race championships.

Nicolas Roche (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) have already been selected for the race, with the third slot set to go to one of McLaughlin, Matt Brammeier (Omega Pharma Quick Step) and Philip Deignan (UnitedHealthcare).

Deignan has not been racing of late and so it appears to be a two-up scrap for the place. While Brammeier competes with a bigger team and at the WorldTour level, McLaughlin’s Tour of Britain form is encouraging and shows he is in season-best condition.

“Since the nationals my aim has been to have a good performance in the Tour of Britain. I never dreamed then I had a chance of going to the worlds. Obviously I am only on the short list at the moment and the best way of getting myself to go to the worlds is to be aggressive here in the Tour of Britain. That is what I wanted to do,” said the 25 year old An Post Grant Thornton Sean Kelly rider.

“That said, me attacking here is not just about the worlds. I love racing aggressively, I love trying to get in breakaways and it is good for me and the team. That is the main reason I did it.”

McLaughlin was one of six who went clear early on during yesterday’s stage to Blackpool, helped build a lead just shy of seven minutes and then pushed hard when the peloton drew closer and closer. Frustrated by differences in the work being put out by the others, he attacked with 15 kilometres left and only Dan Craven (IG Sigma Sport) could get across. The duo were eventually reeled in approximately five kilometres later, but McLaughlin surged again and briefly got clear with four kilometres remaining.

Hauled back by the Sky team, that last burst of energy cost him his place in the lead group but also removed any doubts as to the winner of the most aggressive rider award. Rolling in 39 seconds back in 24th, he felt it was a worthwhile trade.

“It was half about getting the most aggressive rider award and half for the craic [fun – ed.], basically!” he said. “Everybody knows I like attacking, so a day-long break didn’t seem enough, I thought I would give it a go at the end. Obviously there was no hope it would work when there was a full Sky team there, but at the same time I wasn’t going to get a top ten in the sprint anyway. So it was better that I did something and showed my face somewhere rather than just rolling in 15th or 20th.”

“It was a good day. I enjoyed it. It was a nice experience anyway, that’s for sure. It was good to see I was going as well as I was. The more the stage on, the stronger I felt I was getting. I was going well earlier this year in the An Post Rás, but I think this is my best form of the year.”

McLaughlin set out today with the goal of attacking again, reasoning the riders in the bunch had also had a tough day and that he should have something left in his legs. However he crashed and that cost him energy and power; when the splits went, he was found lacking, so settled into his group and started looking ahead. He believes he’ll be fine to try again tomorrow.

“Basically the goal for the rest of the week is to keep trying to get into breaks and trying to get a result somewhere. There is probably going to be at least one day when the break goes to the finish, so I’ll try to do that.”

Near misses:

As has been the case each season, McLaughlin has improved each year. However he’s yet to register the UCI-ranked win he and many others believe he is capable of. He attacked solo a full 70 kilometres from the finish in Bundoran and went within 100 metres of winning the stage. He was also caught in the final kilometre of a stage of the 2.2 Kreiz Breizh in Brittany, and also in a Belgian kermesse. He was fifth on a stage of the Ronde de l’Oise and third in another kermesse, but really wants a victory.

“I have had a few days where I was very, very close to getting a win. If I had three or four wins, it would be a great season. But I’ll keep trying…obviously I have a chance of going to the worlds, so I will keep trying to show my form here and maybe go to the worlds, then keep racing right up until the end of the season and try to get a win.”

Stepping up to a bigger team is also an ambition, and he knows a victory would be helpful in that regard. That thought will give him impetus in the remaining stages in Britain.

McLaughlin expects Cycling Ireland’s decision about worlds selection to be announced in two days’ time and is clear on what it would mean to him if he does get a green light. “It would be absolutely massive,” he said, enthusiastically. “Dan Martin and Nicolas Roche are confirmed so far and to be able to say I went to the worlds to help them or whatever would be huge. Also just the fact that I would be representing Ireland at the world championships would be great…that has been a long-term goal of mine.”


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