Friday, May 27, 2022
HomeInterviewsRyan Mullen - Silver Medallist in the World U23 Time Trial Championship

Ryan Mullen – Silver Medallist in the World U23 Time Trial Championship

-

Ryan Mullen
Ryan Mullen. Photo©Sean Rowe

The progress of Ryan Mullen (Ireland & AN Post) through the sport has been little short of meteoric.

He first raced in 2008, was on the Irish junior squad within a year and was on the podium at the European Championships by 2012 with second place in the junior time trial then ninth in the junior Worlds TT before ending his season with a win in the junior Chrono des Nations in France.

Season 2013 saw him win the Irish U23 TT title in the colours of Sigma Sport take two bronze medals in the European U23 Track Championships in the scratch and pursuit before taking seventh in the Worlds U23 TT and heading back to the Chrono des Nations to take the U23 race.

Last season he was with AN Post (where he’ll stay for 2015) and saw fourth place in the Worlds individual pursuit, a win in the Irish Elite Road Championships and the U23 TT title – but in a time 40 seconds faster than Michael Hutchison who won the elite title – and then a superb silver medal in the Worlds U23 TT in Ponferrada, a heartbreaking 0.48 seconds behind Aussie winner, Campbell Flakemore – who’s now with BMC.

We caught up with the Irish (via Birkenhead and Wales) flyer early in the New Year as he returned from stocking up at the supermarket in Mallorca where he’s training with the Irish track squad for the track Worlds in Paris.

Were you training in Mallorca through Xmas and New Year, Ryan?

“Just New Year.

“Martyn Irvine and the track team are all here, too.

“We train on the road and at the velodrome where the 2007 track Worlds were held.”

0.48 seconds …

“At first I was thinking about all the places where I could have lost half a second and was really frustrated; but then you think that Flakemore rode in the same horrible wet conditions as I did – so the best man on the day won.”

Ryan Mullen
Ryan with Champion Campbell Blakemore and Stefan Kueng on the U23 podium. Photo©AFP

You were seventh in 2013 in the U23 …

“That seventh place gave me a lot of hope, I knew that in Spain I was a year more experienced and stronger – but when I went in to the 2013 race there was no pressure, I was just thinking that a top ten place would be good.”

The U23 Worlds TT in the USA must be a big goal?

“I’d love to get another chance to win the title; I haven’t done much homework – but I will get round to that in the next few weeks.

“I have heard that it’s pretty flat but technical which sounds right up my street.”

Ryan Mullen
Ryan in 2012 on his way to the British Junior ’10’ Title. Photo©Andy Jones / Cycling Weekly

And you lost the CTT ‘10’ champs by two seconds to Matt Bottrill …

“I’m starting to make a habit of losing time trials by narrow margins !

“Winning the ‘10’ wasn’t really a goal as long as I did a 17 minute ride; it was all part of my Worlds build up.

“I’d had a long ferry journey back from Belgium before the race; Hull to Zeebrugge and had raced 30 hours in the week previous, five 200 K events, all part of the Worlds preparation.”

Your TT position is really slippery.

“I’ve spent time in the wind tunnel but that was with the Irish team testing equipment – I’m lucky that because I’m pretty flexible I can jump on a bike and get a good, aero position.

“That position didn’t come about as a result of wind tunnel testing – it’s just the position I’ve always ridden time trials in.”

Ryan Mullen
You don’t get much more aero than that. Ryan at the Irish TT Champs. Photo©Stephen McMahon

Tell us about beating the World Tour guys to win the Irish Elite Road Race champs.

“It was a bit of a shock, really.

“I hadn’t ridden my road bike at all for three-and-a-half weeks, until the day before.

“All my training was geared towards the U23 time trial champs but I actually should have entered the Elite race because I was 40 seconds faster than Michael Hutchison who won it.

“I felt good for the road race and my motivation was good, I was in the early break and the bunch went to sleep a little.

“It was only in the last 50 K that the peloton stirred but I was feeling good and had two team mates in the break so was able to sit on when they attacked – then I hit them hard with a lap-and-a-half to go and won by a minute and more.”

Is the national champion’s jersey a big deal in Belgium?

“I don’t know really, I never think about it – I’m just a 19 year-old rider trying to make it.

“But sometimes when they’re introducing the team they say; ‘the Irish Champion !’ and I think; ‘oh ! yeah ! that’s me !'”

How did you get into cycling in the first place?

“My dad was a good junior in the 80’s in Ireland but then he had university and work – but he came back to the sport in 2005/6 and that’s when I got involved.

“I rode my first race in 2008 and by 2009 was on the Irish junior squad.”

How did the ride with Sigma come about?

“Simon Howell had seen that I’d been second in the European junior TT champs and made the top ten at the Worlds junior TT; he was taking Joe Perrett down to the 2012 Chrono des Nations.

“He asked if I’d like to go with them, I did, won the junior race and signed up for the team.”

And the AN Post ride?

“With the Irish connection I’d spoken to AN Post DS Kurt Bogaerts in 2012 but he reckoned that their programme would be too much for me at that age.

“When I won the Chrono in 2013 Kurt signed me for 2014.

“I enjoy it in Belgium; it fits in perfectly with my Irish Team commitments – I’m not there all the time, more like three or four week blocks as part of my preparation with the national team.”

Ryan Mullen
Ryan is equally at home and as fast on the track Photo©Guy Swarbrick

Do you see much of Sean Kelly?

“I see him a few times during the year but he comes to all of the training camps and always has good advice – he’s a great guide to have.”

What’s your favourite discipline, road or track?

“I like both but only do the individual and team pursuit on the track, no bunch racing.

“The track is good because it makes the winter fly past – and you get to travel, see the world when you race in the Europeans and World Cups.

“The Worlds individual pursuit in Paris is a big goal, I’m a year stronger and more experienced if there are no hiccups; but I’ve heard that the standard of the field may be higher than it was in 2014 – Bobridge will be there, for example.”

What’s 2015 about?

“There’s the track Worlds then I’ll take a break before riding the Nations Cup races then the Ras and the Nationals with breaks in between then a series of one day races in Belgium as build up to the Worlds in Richmond.”

Watch for him in Paris – and Richmond …

Ed Hood
Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 47 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, a team manager, and a sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days for some of the world's top riders. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

Related Articles

Douglas Dewey – a Road Racer, Deep Down

We last spoke to Douglas Dewey in April on the back of his successful French Spring Campaign with Hennebont Cycling.

Tao Geoghegan Hart – The New u23 British Champion

It was the end of 2013 when we last spoke to Tao Geoghegan Hart (Axeon Hagens-Berman). He has a name that's hard to miss, Tao Geoghegan Hart; with 2013 results to match - two of Europe's premier junior stage races and a podium in the junior Paris-Roubaix. Since then a lot of races have flowed under the bridge and he’s had strong results in more than his fair share of them. Sunday saw him take arguably the biggest result of his career; finishing sixth behind Messrs. Blythe, Cavendish, Fenn, MvNally and Thwaites in the British Elite Road Race title event – and taking the U23 jersey champion’s in the process.

Joe Nally – in France for 2021, with Team Elite Restauration 89

Joe Nally is a resilient lad. He's gone out and got himself a ride with French Division Two équipe, Team Elite Restauration 89 based in Toucy for season 2021. Not a bad move in our opinion; the French scene may not be as strong as it once was but it’ll certainly provide more and better racing than Joe would have access to in the UK.

Rab Wardell – A Trip Into The Unknown

Whilst Endura have been getting all the attention recently, other Scottish riders have been looking to raise their game too. Rab Wardell is taking his talent south - to Southport's Kinesis team. We caught up with him to talk about the move - eventually. (Rab is a fan of having his mobile on 'silent' after five pm - but of course, this means he doesn't hear it when it rings!)

Paul Double – 2nd in the Giro di Romagna

With so many tales of broken promises, teams folding and disillusioned young men heading home to Blighty from Europe, it’s good to tell a story where it all comes together and there’s a podium involved. Paul Double has been on our radar for a while, first as a ‘Zappi Man,’ a CTT Hill Climb medallist, riding for one of Italy’s top u23 teams – the mighty Colpack Ballan – then last year back as a ‘Zappi Man.’

Luke Ryan – Nipping Over to Belgium and Winning on the Kermis circuit

It’s high time we looked east again, across the North Sea to where bike racing isn’t an aberration, where it’s in the soil and a barrier to hang over with your Jupiler and frites is never far away. A name which we’ve seen cropping up this year is that of Luke Ryan (Richardsons-Trek Road Team) and recently he won a kermis at Torhout. There’s a man to have a word with...

At Random

That was La Vuelta 2009 – What’s Next?

The Vuelta has finished, so has the Tour of Britain, the Worlds are this weekend, the crosses have started and there's a nip in the air in the mornings - autumn is here. My favourite time of the year: in Scotland it rains less, the skies are blue, the air is fresh and leaves are so beautiful as they turn.

Le Tour de France 2014 – Stage 19; Maubourguet Pays du Val d’Adour – Bergerac, 208 km. Navardauskas Solo

There's always drama when you work le Tour. We've followed Tour time trials for years; roll up at the start, tell the dude which rider you're following, they give you a windscreen sticker, marshall you into position at the appointed time and off you go. This year, however we were notified that we had to attend a meeting on Friday evening at the Permanence after the stage if we wished to follow a rider. Fair enough - but then they changed the venue a few hours before the meet was due.

Het Nieuwsblad 2018 goes to Michael Valgren Andersen

"Ooooohhhhhhh!" The moan echoes around the bar; these boys are aficionados, they all know that solid Astana Dane, Michael Valgren Andersen isn't coming back - he timed his jump to perfection, there was that fatal second or two of hesitation among the frozen men behind him and he was gone, en route to win Het Nieuwsblad 2018.

Giro d’Italia 2008 – Day 4: Stage 16, San Vigilio di Marebbe – Plan de Corones (Individual Time Trial)

The balcony from our digs has the most perfect views you can imagine. It was a hassle to find, but now that we're here it's simply magnificent, it's like looking out of a plane, we're so high and the view across the valley is so spectacular. The Plan de Corones stage made for great TV and if we'd had mountain bikes with us and no deadlines to worry about it would have been great to be up there on the dirt section.

Toby Perry – “My goal was to win a race – I’ve done that now!”

Flavio Zappi’s boys are in full effect in la Bella Italia and Scotsman Calum Johnston is turning the pedals in anger in Espana and the man who won the Memorial Zumzarren in Estella-Lizarra, Navarre, Northern Spain where Calum finished 14th recently, was an Englishman; 21 year-old Toby Perry from Ashford in Kent, by name.

Fedor Den Hertog – Amateur Colossus, Rest In Peace

Less than a month after the death of Peter Post, Dutch cycling has lost another of its 'Greats' with the news that Fedor Den Hertog succumbed on Saturday 12th February, after a long battle with illness. For anyone involved in cycle sport in the late 60's and early 70's, amateur Den Hertog's name was as well known as any of the top professionals.