Archie Ryan rubs shoulders with big names in Australia

Weekend cycling round-up: Irish riders get their seasons under way in Spain

New professional Archie Ryan may have hoped to be a little more prominent in the Santos Tour Down Under, but can leave the race with confidence boosted and knowing it will further his long-term results.

The EF Education-EasyPost neo-pro rider finished 29th overall in the race, one minute 48 seconds behind overall winner Stephen Williams (Israel-Premier Tech).

Ryan secured a multiyear contract with the squad based on strong climbing performances as an amateur, including stage wins in the Tour de l’Avenir, the Ronde de l’Isard and the Tour of Slovakia.

He avoided trouble in the first four mostly flat stages of the race and went into the weekend’s uphill finishes at Willunga Hill and Mount Lofty keen to compare himself to some of the top professionals in the world.


Ryan was prominent in the closing minutes of both stages, sitting close to the front, but went too far into the red on Saturday’s race and blew up, finishing 1.18 back in 39th place. Sunday was better as he was to the fore when the big attacks fired off, sitting inside the top 10 of the bunch with 1.5km to go.

Still building strength at this early point of the season, he and many others were gapped when five riders made their move, including race leader Williams.

Ryan raced to the finish atop Mount Lofty in a group just 10 seconds back, placing 20th. Former world champion Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-QuickStep) and 2018 Vuelta a España winner Simon Yates (Jayco-AlUla) were also in the group.

Ryan is due to race in next Sunday’s Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race prior to flying back to Europe.

Fellow Irishman Ryan Mullen also competed in the Santos Tour Down Under and played an important role in helping Bora-Hansgrohe team-mate Sam Welsford to three stage victories during the race.

Meanwhile, Megan Armitage, Imogen Cotter, Eddie Dunbar and Liam O’Brien all got their seasons under way in Spanish races. Armitage made her debut with the EF Education-Cannondale squad in Saturday’s Trofeo Felanitx in Majorca, finishing 13 seconds off her victorious team-mate Noemi Rüegg.

The win was the first for the new team, and will greatly boost morale. Armitage was not scheduled to compete in Sunday’s Trofeo Palma Femina, again won by a team-mate Magdeleine Vallieres, but will be in action in Monday’s Trofeo Binissalem-Andratx.

Imogen Cotter made her debut with a new team in Sunday’s event, being the best-placed finisher from the Hess Cycling Team squad in 57th place. She too will be in action on Monday.

In mainland Spain, Dunbar and O’Brien were in action in the Ruta de la Cerámica-Gran Premio Castellón. The former’s Jayco AlUla team-mate Michael Matthews won in a 23-man sprint. Dunbar was 65th, while O’Brien was 81st.

It was the first race for his Lidl-Trek Future Racing squad, the development team of the WorldTour-level Lidl-Trek squad.

  • Sign up for push alerts and have the best news, analysis and comment delivered directly to your phone
  • Find The Irish Times on WhatsApp and stay up to date
  • Our In The News podcast is now published daily – Find the latest episode here
Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes is a contributor to The Irish Times writing about cycling