Strong six man team announced for Tour de l'Avenir
A strong six-man team has been confirmed for the Tour de l’Avenir, which begins in the Vendée region of France next Thursday August 18th and finishes in the Alps on Sunday August 28th.
Darren Rafferty (19) will line out fresh from his superb eighth place in the Commonwealth Games time trial. He has had a very impressive first season as an under 23 rider, winning the Strade Bianche di Romagna and the Irish under 23 time trial title, and clocking up numerous other strong results. These include third on a stage in last month’s Giro Ciclistico della Valle d'Aosta - Mont Blanc.
Archie Ryan (20) has returned to form this season after a long-running knee problem and has clocked up many impressive climbing performances. He had arguably his best result of the season last week in the Sazka Tour, netting seventh on a stage and sixth overall in a field which included WorldTour competitors. He was also second in the best young rider classification.
Dean Harvey (19) won the king of the mountains competition in the Rás Tailteann and took a fine fourth place in the national road race championships, as well as winning the national under 23 title. He was also seventh on a stage of the Flèche du Sud and has clocked up strong results in Irish competition all year.
Kevin McCambridge (20) won the final stage of the Rás Tailteann in a superb solo move. He placed second behind Rafferty in the national under 23 time trial title, having won that race in 2021.
Adam Ward (21) was third in the same race and won stage three of the Rás Tailteann. He finished third overall in the race and second in the best under 23 rider contest.
Liam Curley (22) has ridden solidly this season and while he missed the Rás Tailteann due to Covid, has taken a number of strong results including winning the recent Brendan Campbell Memorial.
The Tour de l’Avenir is regarded as a youth version of the Tour de France and has been won by some of the biggest names in cycling.
Former world scratch race champion Martyn Irvine leads Ireland’s under 23 road programme and oversaw the successful Rás Tailteann campaign, where Team Ireland riders won two out of the five stages, the points classification, the King of the Mountains competition and the best team award.
He described the selection for the Tour de l’Avenir as exciting.
“I have worked with them all year and I know their skillsets. L’Avenir is a long race and we can pick and choose days. It is a strong enough team that they will all have chances to show off their abilities.”
Of the six riders, he believes that Ryan is the one with the best chance for the general classification.
“Personally I would like to put some protection around Archie in the early days, to keep a team around him because his skillset will come to the fore at the end of the week. I think that would be a good idea to make sure we get him to the hard stuff in good condition.
“And then we will let the other riders take their chances in breaks. We will play it day by day.”
The Tour de l’Avenir begins next Thursday with a flat 4 kilometre prologue time trial. Four flat to undulating stages follow before a 28 kilometre team time trial on stage five. The remaining stages are all mountainous and, as Irvine states, should suit Ryan’s climbing abilities.
He’s hoping it will be a very good showing for the team.
“I am looking forward to it because I really think we can perform really well if we can work together as a unit.”