Following recent surgery to address a slow-healing fracture to his hand, Eddie Dunbar has finally made a return to training on the road. The Corkman did a long spin outdoors last Thursday and has continued with other training rides since.
The development marks welcome progression in what has been a long road back after a fall on February 1st. He crashed on his first day of racing this season, hitting the deck during stage one of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana in Spain.
Dunbar worked hard on the indoor trainer to try to retain fitness and had hoped to return to training outdoors after several weeks, only for his hand to give him a lot of pain when he tried for the first time. Subsequent examination showed the fracture had not healed and he underwent surgery on March 8th.
At the time his team said it hoped he would be back training on the road within two weeks. Instead, he was able to do that just eight days after surgery and will continue building his form in advance of a return to competition.
“It felt good, tt actually rained for three or four hours but I didn’t mind because I spent four weeks on the turbo trainer twice a day. So that was mentally tough,” said Dunbar.
All going to plan, he will line out in the Itzulia Basque Country stage race on April 3rd. The Giro d’Italia remains a key goal for him and he will do what he can to reach the start on May 6th in the best possible form.
Dunbar is a strong climber who won two stage races last year, making him Ireland’s best WorldTour general classification contender.
Meanwhile, Megan Armitage finished fourth in the mountains classification and 44th overall in the Tour de Normandie Féminin in France on Sunday.
Motivated after her stage victory and overall win in the recent Vuelta Extremadura Féminas in Spain, she picked up mountains points on Friday’s opening stage and ended the day second in that ranking. Armitage crashed close to the finish and trailed in 91st, but was not badly hurt and was able to continue.
She finished as part of the main bunch on Saturday’s second stage, eight seconds behind the solo winner Cédrine Kerbaol (Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling), and was once again in the peloton on Sunday’s concluding leg. This was won in a bunch sprint by Belgian rider Shari Bossuyt (Canyon//SRAM Racing).
Armitage ended the 2.1-ranked event 20 seconds behind the overall winner Kerbaol and fourth in that mountains classification. She has been in fine form thus far this season, with her victory in the Vuelta Extremadura Féminas the first UCI-ranked race win by a female Irish rider.
In Belgium, 16 year old Seth Dunwoody followed up his 11th place in the 1.1-ranked Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne Juniors last month with a fine performance in the 2.1-ranked Guido Reybrouck Classic in Belgium.
After netting 23rd in the opening day time trial on Saturday, the Cannibal-Victorious Under 19 Development Team rider finished sixth on Sunday’s concluding stage two, racing in as part of a four-man group sprinting for third place. Dunwoody won the youth classification by 14 seconds over the next rider and was also seventh overall.
At home, Matthew Devins pulled off a very rare feat at the weekend, winning all three stages plus the overall classification in the Rás Mhaigh Eo in Westport. The Dan Morrissey – Primor by Pissei rider beat Rás Tailteann winner Daire Feeley (All human/VeloRevolution) by one minute 15 seconds and Paul Kennedy (Burren Cycling Club) by a further 17 seconds.
Devins grabbed the early race lead when he outsprinted Feeley and Kennedy to the line at the end of Saturday’s first stage to Westport. The trio finished almost a minute and a half ahead of the nearest chasers Conor Hennebry (Dan Morrissey – Primor by Pissei) and Cian Keogh (Unattached, Leinster), making it all but certain the final race win would go to one of them.
Devins then strengthened his advantage in the Saturday afternoon hilly time-trial, beating Feeley by 7.53 seconds over the 3.4 kilometre distance, with his own team-mate Matteo Cigala taking third.
The final stage saw Devins complete a clean sweep, outsprinting Seán Hahessy (Dan Morrissey – Primor by Pissei), Anthony Walsh (Roadman Cycling Club) and Mark Shannon (Burren Cycling Club) to the line after they, Mitchell McLaughlin (All human/VeloRevolution Racing Team) and Conor Hennebry (Dan Morrissey – Pimor by Pissei) finished with a gap of over a minute on the next riders.
Elsewhere, Luke Smith (Moynalty Cycling Club) took the Boyne GP ahead of Adam Gilsenan (Arabay Vas Team), Jason Kenny (UCD Cycling Club) and team-mate Joel Luke filled the first two slots in the Michael Shiels road-race in Knockaderry, and John Buller won the Tour of Ards in front of Lindsay Watson (Powerhouse Sport).