It was mission accomplished for Ryan Mullen in Wexford, Ireland on Thursday night. The 22-year-old recorded a personal best 40-minute power average en route to time trial gold at the Irish National Road Championships. It’s Mullen’s second elite time trial title and Cannondale-Drapac’s first national title of the 2017 season.
“It means a lot to me,” said Mullen. “I felt like I was under a bit of pressure to win, especially after Worlds last year. To be honest, I expected to win and would have been disappointed if I didn’t. I’m glad I wasn’t unrealistic or over-confident about my chances.
“Being a national champion is something I’m very proud of,” he added. “I will always make an effort to come to Nationals, even if the timing or the location doesn’t make it the easiest race in the world to include in my schedule.”
Mullen covered the 33-kilometer course in a winning standard of 40:48. It was 15-seconds quicker than the time set by defending champion Nicolas Roche (BMC) in second place.
“The race was run on this country road,” noted Mullen. “The surface was really bad, with holes everywhere, and it was hard to pick your line. I think that played to my strength as a heavier guy. The lighter guys probably bounced about. There wasn’t much in the way of climbs. It was a fairly straightforward course.”
A stiff headwind on the way out required a measured approach to the first half of the race.
“I had to start a little bit harder than what I could sustain,” said Mullen. “I got to the halfway point, and I hadn’t over-paced. I was 15-seconds down. I thought: ‘Well, shit. This hasn’t gone to plan.’ But Roche went out too hard as well, and I pulled back 30, 40 seconds on him going back.”
Mullen will line up for Ireland’s road race championship on Sunday.
“I haven’t even looked at the course yet,” he said. “I was all in for the TT. I wanted that skinsuit back. That was the big goal for the weekend.
“I did the double in 2014 [as a U23], and I’ll try to do that again, but for the road race, most of the field just sits on the WorldTour riders, there are four of us, so it’s not anything like a normal race,” he added. “I’ll definitely give it a crack.”