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Team Ireland’s Eddie Dunbar will be competing in his first senior Olympics on Saturday morning when he takes part in the Men’s Road Race alongside Dan Martin and Nicholas Roche.
Dunbar took part in the 2011 European Youth Olympics in Trabzon, Turkey so he feels comfortable in an Olympic setting.
The 24-year-old Irishman is excited to represented Ireland at the Olympics, even if he believes there are bigger events on the professional cycling calendar.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly proud to represent Ireland in the Olympics and I always love representing my country, it’s something that means a lot to me,” said Dunbar.
“But as I said, I think in terms of cycling itself, it’s something that’s you don’t think of like I’m not thinking [of Paris] in three years time, you know, I’m thinking ‘Oh next year I’d love to do the tour’ or ‘I’d love to do the Giro’ or something like that.”
Dunbar is the youngest rider of the trio to represent Ireland on Saturday and will follow in the footsteps of Ireland’s first-ever Olympic medalist, Pat O’Callaghan – the gold medal winner was also from Banteer.
The Olympian was only 10 when a statue of O’Callaghan was erected in his hometown and always heard about the hammer throw champion growing up.
He has also been interested in rugby from a young age and used to get the same Munster players’ autographs every week at Musgrave Park.
“I probably watch more rugby than I do cycling being honest.”
The road cyclist comes into the Olympics off the back of a strong performance at the Tour de Suisse, where he won the prize of Best Youth Cyclist after helping INEOS Grenadiers teammate Richard Carapaz to the Yellow jersey.
His performances from Frauenfeld to Andermatt came several months after a crash at the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali.
He was slow to come back from the crash but felt confident heading into the race in Switzerland.
“I trained super good for two and a half weeks, I got called into Suisse, probably rode the best race my life there.”
The young cyclist is part of the Olympic cycling team ahead of Sam Bennett, who would have got in had the selection process been based on rankings.
However, Dunbar is a specialist when it comes to hills and with the course featuring 4,800m worth of climbing to do, the Banteer man is a good selection for the job.
The cyclist is expecting a different kind of race compared to the tours on the cycling calendar – the race being for one day only is a clear example of the differences it has.
From speaking to Nico Roche and his 2008 Olympics teammate Philip Deignan, Dunbar has concluded that the race relies more on individual confidence and awareness rather than a set strategy.
“I think it’s a race where you have to go in open-minded and see what happens. Just be attentive. And yeah, if you feel good, at a certain point, just go for it, you know?”
To see the Olympic schedule for Irish athletes on Saturday, July 24th, click here.