Irish Cycling hasn’t had a hero since the days of Seán Kelly and Stephen Roche. The sport has undergone something of a Renaissance in the last five years with more and more people out on the roads putting down hard miles. Soccer has Robbie Keane, golf has Rory McIlroy and rugby had Brian O’Driscoll up until last season. Nicholas Roche is at the forefront of strong Irish cyclists but unless he wins a Grand Tour he will always be in the shadow of his father.
Corkman Eddie Dunbar has all the credentials of a tour rider elect. He is a frighteningly powerful, aggressive rider who is currently testing his ability with Pro team NFTO. Officially ranked the no.1 British team in 2014 there’s no better place for Dunbar to learn the trade of Continental-Tour riding.
The 18-year old starred in the junior ranks of Irish racing last year and is a two-time yellow jersey winner at the Junior Tour of Ireland and won the national time trial championship as well last year. Amongst other victories he also had overall victory at the NFTO Junior Tour of Wales.
Despite interest from the UK, Europe and the US Dunbar chose the Yorkshire based outfit to ride with this year. Already he’s been making waves particularly with a sensational performance in one of the UK’s biggest races of the year. The Chorley Grand Prix saw Dunbar lead an attack that split the breakaway from 18 men to just three. This paved the way for teammate Ian Bibby to claim the win. 28-year old Bibby was full of praise for the rookie at the end of the race.
“I looked behind and saw there were only two of us so our best chance was to get across to Eddie and really commit,” said Bibby.
“Eddie killed himself and sacrificed it for me. He’s done incredible for his first year.”
His talent is only rivalled by his ambition. Speaking to Lucca Sports Dunbar says he wouldn’t hesitate at the chance of riding in the Pro Continental or World Tour:
“I want to get to the World Tour as soon as possible. I am a very ambitious person. That’s the way I have always been so I can’t see the point in waiting if the opportunity arrives.”
Such is his talent that Paddy Power have him at a meagre 11/8 to win a Tour de France stage at any stage in his career.
Maybe Eddie Dunbar is the icon Irish Cycling needs? He certainly has the potential.
Watch this space.