Ryan Mullen interview: Espoir Chrono des Nations winner believes he can continue his rapid progression in 2014
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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Ryan Mullen interview: Espoir Chrono des Nations winner believes he can continue his rapid progression in 2014

by Shane Stokes at 8:58 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews
European track championship medals also encouraging for first year under 23 rider

Ryan MullenIdentified as one of the big young talents by his results this year, Under 23 Chrono des Nations winner Ryan Mullen has said that he is looking forward to competing with the An Post Chainreaction Sean Kelly team next season and to improving his level in road racing.

“I definitely want to start getting some more road results,” the 19 year old Irishman told VeloNation. “2013 has been pretty quiet on the road race front - partly because of my diverse programme of track, crits in the UK and the occasional road race.

“Next year I’m hoping for a more focused programme. But I still want to keep up the TT's. Obviously it's turned out to be my strong point and it's something I want to continue to do.”

Mullen graduated from the junior ranks prior to the start of this season and despite it being his first year at espoir level, he clocked up several notable results.

He took bronze medals in the scratch race and the individual pursuit at the under 23 European track championships in July, and then placed seventh against older competitors in last month’s world championship under 23 time trial.

Last Sunday he dominated the under 23 Chrono des Nations, beating the second placed rider Bruno Armirail by one minute sixteen seconds in the 43.45 kilometre event.

One day later the An Post Chainreaction Sean Kelly team confirmed that he would be joining it next season, with general manager Kurt Bogaerts calling him and Owain Doull ‘two of the best talents around.’

He will be hoping that the duo can ride strongly with the team, then graduate to bigger squads down the line.

Mullen lives in North Wales and competed this year with the British IG Sigma Sport team. He is now looking forward to racing regularly in Belgium and elsewhere in Europe.

“I think An Post is a great move for me. They have an amazing programme which will be good for my development,” he said. “One thing I've lacked this year is stage racing. So to get some stage racing done will be a big benefit for me, I think.”

Given that he can expect to naturally grow stronger over the next few seasons, Mullen appears to have realistic hopes of taking European or world under 23 titles in the sport, then going on to a pro career.

Weighing up what he did this year, the Chrono des Nations success is something which gives him particular satisfaction, not least because of the margin of victory.

“I’m really happy with the win. I went there last year as a junior and won then as well, so I came to the race with aspirations of making the podium, and the win if I was on a good enough day,” he said. “It's been a really long season for me with changing from road to track and back again in the summer and it's starting to catch up on me. As a result, I was really surprised to have ridden as well as I did.

“To take it by one minute sixteen seconds... I was just as surprised as everyone else. I’m very proud of the result and even more so the winning margin.”

Continuous progression:

Asked to name the highlights of his season, he lists the European track championship bronze medals, his Irish national under 23 TT win and netting seventh in the worlds in what is first year in that age group. They give him cause for optimism as to what he can achieve in the future.

“I hope these results are something for me to build on for next year and to bag a whole load more,” he said.

“In terms of my progress, it seems like I’ve progressed every week. I haven't actually ridden many time trials at all this year, maybe only five or six. But I’ve gotten stronger in every single one I’ve done. Last weekend's Chrono des Nations is where I think is the best I’ve ever performed in a time trial.”

Mullen now plans to concentrate on track racing for the next few months. He’s still finalising plans but thinks he will likely be based in Mallorca. He’ll train on the track there and also rack up base miles for 2014 in better weather conditions that he would get at home.

He’s ambitious about what he wants to achieve this winter. “The World Cups on the track are something I’d love to medal in. I’m very grateful for the opportunity Cycling Ireland has given me in sending me to these races.”

Looking a little further ahead, he has identified other targets to achieve with the national team. Irish riders missed out on the espoir road race in Florence this year due to the team not getting the necessary points, and he and others want to try to put that right in 2014.

“The U23 Nations cups are a big objective next year, in order to qualify a team for the U23 Worlds,: he said. “We were in the mix this year with a relatively young team but we were undone by bad luck - hopefully 2014 will bring some more luck and results for us.

“We'll have a strong team with myself, Jack Wilson and Connor Dunne, so a result should come in some form or another.”

As regards the events he will do with the An Post Chainreaction Sean Kelly squad, he accepts that he will have a team role to play in many events. He’s fine with that, accepting that he will learn and grow stronger while doing so, and will likely also get his own chances at times.

“There's a lot of experience in the team and I think I'll learn a lot from the guys already there,” he stated. “I appreciate I’ll probably have to do my fair share of work, but it's something I'm willing to do in exchange for the opportunity to move on to bigger things.”


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