Kilcullen, Ireland - Eddie Dunbar captured his second straight Under 23 Irish national time trial crown Thursday to deliver the Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team its 20th win of the season.
The 19-year-old from Banteer finished 1:03 behind WorldTour rider Nicolas Roche (Team Sky) to earn the title, as well as the silver medal of the elite category. Last year, Dunbar was runner-up to Ryan Mullen (Cannondale Pro Cycling Team). Thursday, Mullen finished third, 22 seconds behind Dunbar.
Dunbar said his performance in the 40-kilometer race surprised even himself a bit.
"I am happy because this was the first time trial I have done since last September," he said. "To beat someone like (former world Under 23 time trial runner-up) Ryan Mullen - who is obviously a very successful rider - is nice. It would have been nice to have taken home the elite title. But Nicolas was obviously very strong and deserved to win."
After being sidelined for about six weeks by a collarbone broken in a training ride April 20, Dunbar has won a stage of An Post Ras, finished 17th at the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic and helped Axeon Hagens Berman win the team title Sunday at Tour de Savoie Mont-Blanc.
"I trained well after breaking my collarbone and then I had the Ras to get me back in form," Dunbar said. "So I got a good block of racing in that got me back to form fairly quickly."
The victory by Dunbar continues a string of unprecedented success by Axeon Hagens Berman riders, who have now won seven times in the past seven days.
Neilson Powless started it by winning the individual time trial last Friday at the Tour de Beauce. Adrien Costa's victory in the individual time trial at the Tour de Savoie followed on Saturday. Sunday, Tao Geoghegan Hart won the final stage of Tour de Savoie a few hours before U.S. national road champion Greg Daniel scored overall victory at the Tour de Beauce and won the final stage. Wednesday, Krists Neilands won the Latvian Under 23 time trial crown before Dunbar made it seven wins on Thursday.
Among the 20 victories this year, 15 have come in UCI competition.
This Sunday, Dunbar will try to repeat his Under 23 victory from last year in Irish national road race. Like Thursday, elite and Under 23 riders will be combined into one field.
"It is all coming together," Dunbar said. "I am looking forward to it. I am not sure what the course is like but I will have a good look at it Saturday and should have a good idea of how it will pan out."
(Photo by Davey Wilson.)