Talking shop with Eddie Dunbar


On Wednesday, Ireland’s Eddie Dunbar (NFTO) was off the front for over 130k in a U23 ‘World Cup’ and came away with three prizes and a spot on the podium

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Talking shop with Eddie Dunbar

Picture the scene. It’s Wednesday and news leaks out on Twitter than Eddie Dunbar is leading a nations cup race in France by eight minutes on his own. All of a sudden, interest in the race is lit up and I said I’d have to have have a chat to him about his epic lone break. Cue Friday in London at the launch of a new major sponsor for NFTO (Aberdeen) and Eddie was there with Steele Von Hoff and so I did the deed and sat down with Eddie to discuss why he wanted to ride 130k plus on his own!

The event was two days after finishing 4th in the Tour of Reservoir, and NFTO’s Eddie Dunbar was putting on his national colours of Ireland and riding a Nations Cup in France; La Côte Picarde.


Eddie and Steele on top of London in the team’s new colours to be used for the Tour de Yorkshire

The races are like a World Cup for Under 23 riders where the World’s Best come together riding for their countries and trying to get noticed by trade team managers around the world.

The course was a rolling one, climbs of a kilometre or so but as Eddie explained, with teams like Great Britain and Australia bringing their sprinters to the race, it was expected to be a bunch kick at the end of the 180k. The NFTO Irishman was the youngest rider in the race riding his first Nations Cup as an Under 23.

He had already won such events as a junior but was expecting the Under 23 version to be less hectic than the junior one. A bunch sprint however wasn’t going to be any good to Eddie who’s a mighty climber as he showed in the Chorley Grand Prix. So he knew he had to go on the attack. Question was, when in the race was he going to light it up.

After two very tough days at Reservoir, Eddie had a day off on Monday and then a gentle spin with the Irish team on Tuesday before the race. He admits it took a while to ‘wake’ the legs up but after there was a lot of attacking, Eddie put the hammer down after 40k in Picarde and was off on his own.

“I put the hammer down and no-one came with me so I put the head down and went as hard as I could for half an hour or so” Eddie explained to VeloUK on Friday. “Kurt Bogaerts, (An Post and Irish manager at the race) came up and said to me ‘you have six minutes’ and a while later saying it was seven minutes.”


No, this isn’t Picarde but the Chorley GP and Eddie going solo there as well.

“He told me to ride at the tempo I was going and said he would tell me when the peloton started chasing so I could up the pace again. He was giving me good updates and tactics and I was out there making it as hard as possible for the peloton and stayed away until to 15k to go”.

“I was riding by heart rate and it was pretty high for the first half hour. I won’t say how high but it was high! But then I brought it down a bit and kept the speed between 38 and 40k an hour most of the time. It wasn’t so much I slowed down at the end but they sped up that I was caught”.

An example of that was on the finishing circuit as the three leaders were clawing their way back to him, Eddie pulled out 25 seconds on them on a single KoM, showing his legs were still in good shape. He was though, eventually caught by three riders and spent a few kilometres at the back before going on the attack again, this time with a German rider.

“I seemed to get stronger and the two of us worked well together” Eddie explained but with the sprint teams pulling hard in the peloton, the two leaders time out front was soon over and Eddie was content to sit in, ‘suffering comfortably’ as he put it, and finished the race with the front group. Whilst riders were bring shelled around him and the peloton reduced to 54 riders by the finish, Eddie hung on and finished the race 42nd.

Eddie’s time out front didn’t only get his name known to those that have yet to hear about him but also netted him a place on the podium with the KoM, Sprints and Most Combative prizes. Not a bad days work for the NFTO rider.


Lots of banter between the Irishman and Aussie meants lots of smiles in London on Friday

Despite not winning, Eddie was happy with the day’s work. “It was a good training session for the Tour of Yorkshire (Eddie’s next race), 180k as hard as you can.” It followed the Tour of Reservoir which has also given Eddie another tough work out prior to the first big test for the youngster when he comes up against the top pros over Yorkshire’s biggest climbs.

Looking back at the Tour of Reservoir, Eddie explained he was disappointed the race didn’t go up the Moors. “I think that would have been where the race would have been won and lost because myself and Bibby could definitely have done something on it”.

“They (the commissaries) made the right call as safety comes first for riders so I was happy with fourth. Madison were strong and controlled the race brilliantly but it was two really good hard days racing and that makes you stronger. It was so aggressive whilst the Tour of Yorkshire should be more controlled so it should be easier for me to sit in and bide my time”.


The future and going forward in cycling
At the time I did the interview, we’d just sat through an hour of listening about how NFTO, with new sponsor Aberdeen, had big ambitions which mirror what Eddie wants out of cycling. “As a rider coming into the team being only 18 years old, it is very important for me to develop as a rider properly and do the right races and not over do it”.

“Seeing Aberdeen come on board, it will make things better for the team and if NFTO and Aberdeen go ProConti next year, that would provide a smooth transition from Conti to Pro Conti in just my second year as an Under 23. That would be massive and I am sure in a few years, on the world stage, we’ll be winning big races.”

Eddie explained he was honoured to be one of the two riders invited to do the launch. “It felt crazy to be invited to do this. I came into the team as the youngest rider and I never expected to find people looking up to me like this. It’s surreal but I’ll just grab the opportunity with both hands and see how it goes and hope to repay that faith winning races”.

I am sure anyone who has seen Eddie race so far will agree, winning races is something he will do. Let’s not forget a young Simon Yates win a mountain top finish in the Tour of Britain against the world’s best climbers. No summit finishes in Yorkshire though but enough hills to give the young Irish rider a stern test against top riders and a new benchmark for him to measure himself during his rapid rise in the pro ranks.

Thanks for the chat Eddie

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