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Ronan to make world cycling debut  24.09.08

Muff man to race for Ireland in Italy on Friday

by Damian Dowds, Inishowen Independent

MUFF cyclist Ronan McLaughlin will make his World Championship debut when he represents Ireland in Varese, Italy on Friday. McLaughlin leaves his Belgian base for the foothills of the Alps on Wednesday morning, will train and Thursday and his race starts at 12.15pm local time (11.15am Irish time) on Friday.
The 20 year-old competes in the under-23 menís road race, covering a 173km (108 miles) route with two compatriots, Daniel Martin and Conor McConvey. Irelandís three-man team will be competing against 48 other teams, some of whom will be up to five men strong.
Ireland had qualified five riders for the event, but Cycling Ireland selected only three.
ďDaniel is the team leader, and it will be up to me or Conor to get into any early breakaway,Ē Ronan told the Inishowen Independent on Sunday. ďAny breakaway will probably be pulled back, and after that weíll work to give him as good a chance as possible to win. But if something happens Daniel, like a puncture, Iíll then be the leader.Ē
Ronan McLaughlin Ronan has raced for Ireland several times in the past, most recently in the European Championships, also held in Italy, in July. The Muff manís preparations had been hampered by illness and he was disappointed with his performance. ďI hadnít got good form coming into it and wasnít able to compete as I know I can,Ē he said. ďBut this time I feel really confident and Iím looking forward to it.Ē
The 173km race will encompass ten 17km laps around the city of Varese. ďBecause the laps are relatively short, it will be a very technical and
and tactical race. Iíll just have to stay alert and cover any moves.Ē
Varese marks the end of McLaughlinís debut professional season, one that heís entitled to look back on with satisfaction.
McLaughlin missed out on selection with his professional team for the Tour of Ireland earlier this summer and missed out on some racing. ďBut Iíve had two good, top level races in the last week and those have really sharpened me up for Varese,Ē he said.
He has already signed up for the An Post-Sean Kelly Cycling team for 2009. ďIím young, but Iíve acquitted myself well against stronger riders and the management feel that I can step up,Ē he said. ďI know myself Iím capable of it, but itís a steep learning curve. Itís not just about being a strong man, itís knowing when to use that strength. Itís very tactical and I know Iíve lots of lessons to learn.Ē
You can watch the race unfold live on TV. The menís under-23 road race is live on Eurosport, with coverage starting at 11am.
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