Three years ago a young rider called Ryan Mullen was racing at circuits like Marsh Tracks and now he’s in a World Tour team, Garmin Cannondale. VeloUK spoke to him at the Tour of Britain
Feature – Talking to Ryan Mullen
Ryan Mullen all smiles signing autographs only a few years after he raced in North Wales as a junior
Just down the road from where I’m writing this in West Kirby, Ryan Mullen was born in Birkenhead (according to Wikipedia) and grew up in North Wales. I remember so well doing results and seeing the young riders name in results for events like those at Marsh Tracks or in RTTC time trials.
It was at the Tour of Britain presentation in Colwyn Bay that his Welsh upbringing was the talk of the event because of all the riders there, he was the only one who went to school in the Welsh town!
It wasn’t that long ago he was riding domestically for Sigma Sport but after some sensational results racing for Ireland including their road race championship, the former Rhos on Sea rider has now signed for two years for WorldTour outfit Garmin-Cannondale.
Talking to Ryan at Colwyn Bay, he explained “It’s kind of surreal riding on my home roads riding for my dream team. We went out for a two hour ride around Queensferry on roads where a few years ago I was dreaming about riding for such a team and now I am”.
The World Championship silver medallist in 2014 (U23 time trial) explained how that he started talking to the team after the Worlds last year and kept in touch all year before he signed his contract earlier this year.
“This is my first race for them and they are all great guys to be racing with. I’m so glad to be part of this team and it’s a real good opportunity to learn and develop as a world tour rider”.
“I never expected to be in a World Tour team” Ryan added. “When I joined Sigma, I thought this is it! I had my first meeting with Sigma and it was the most daunting thing I’d ever done and then you progress and I signed for An Post and I’m thinking it’s not possible to get any better than this”.
“Two years later, I’m in a World Tour team and I’m thinking ‘how did that happen!”
In his first race at the Tour of Britain for Garmin Cannondale, Ryan Mullen (right) is part of the winning team.
Talking a few days later, Ryan said the Tour of Britain had been tough but also very cool doing it with Garmin Cannondale. “There are more expectations on my shoulders now but I’m enjoying the experience” he said.
“It is a steep learning curve even though my role has been a little bit open. I have been looking after a few of the guys, helping them move up the bunch and then going back for bottles and then surviving”.
“I have been back to the cars this week more than I have in my life so I have been learning how to carry the bottles a bit better, how to save energy, when to move up and when not to. Generally how to ride a bike like a pro.”
“The guys in the team have been doing this a long time and I’m picking up more from them this week than I have in the last two years”.
Irish road champion at the 2014 RideLondon Classic
One of the perks being in a WorldTour team is the team bus and Ryan explained that the Garmin Cannondale bus wasn’t even their best bus but it was great nevertheless. “You finish the stage and can go in and have a shower and get the recovery process going half an hour faster than you would normally”.
“The transfers are easier in a bus like that though although on some transfers we were in the cars to get to the hotel quicker”.
Asked if he felt like the new kid on the block in the bus, Ryan replied he did, adding “I feel like I have moved schools going from relatively top of the primary school to the bottom of the high school! It is a big step up and this level of racing is a lot harder than what I have been used to”.
“It’s a hard race because everyone is going well and has the Worlds is in two weeks and I’m feeling it now! This race is the same prep I had for the Worlds last year but as this year’s race has been harder, I am hoping I’ll be a little bit stronger to deal with the Worlds”.
Ryan has signed a two year contract and whilst he rode many top races with An Post, the highlight was always doing the Tour of Britain as it’s the biggest race they do and now it will be the smallest race he does.
Finally, asked what would the dream race would be, he replied – it would be so cool to ride the classics, any of them, Roubaix or Flanders but I’d also like to ride Qatar as that’s a race I have a great interest in and it will be warm!”
Good luck to Ryan at the World Championships in the colours of Ireland!
Riding the 10 champs in 2014 shortly before going to the Worlds and finishing second by half a second!