Bennett left out of Olympic cy...


Bennett left out of Olympic cycling road team due to "hilly" course in Tokyo

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Sprint specialist Sam Bennett has not been selected to represent Ireland at the Olympic Games as the course in Tokyo does not suit him.

Bennett was unable to defend the Green Jersey he won on last year's Tour de France, this year, as he is suffering with a knee injury although he was expected to have recovered before the rescheduled Games in Japan.

Dan Martin, Nicolas Roche and Eddie Dunbar have been selected by Team Ireland and all three will compete in the Road Race, with Roche also competing in the Time Trial.

"Qualification for the Olympic Games in Road Cycling is based on National Rankings with UCI, and on the back of phenomenal results from Irish riders in the professional circuit, in particular Sam Bennett, Ireland secured three spots in the Games in Tokyo, as well as a Time Trial spot," read the official Olympic Federation of Ireland statement.

"Unfortunately, the parcours for this Olympic Road Race were too hilly for Ireland’s sprint specialist."

Martin & Roche selected as Bennett left out 6 August 2016; Nicolas Roche, right, and Dan Martin of Ireland following the Men's Road Race at Fort Copacabana during the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

The Olympic Road Race takes place at the Fuji International Speedway on Saturday 24 July, and the Time Trial takes place the following Wednesday, 28 July, starting at the same venue.

Roche is entering his fourth Games, he made his Olympic debut in Beijing 2008. He is also one of several athletes in this year’s team whose father, Stephen Roche also competed for Team Ireland in the Olympic Games.

His cousin Dan Martin will be racing in his third Games while Dunbar will be tackling his first. The 244km course is a mountainous one that takes in the lower slopes of Mount Fuji, climbing a total of 4,865m, which could suit climber Martin. Nicolas Roche will also compete in the Time Trial, which is 44.2km long, two laps of the 22.1km course.

First time Olympian Dunbar, from Banteer in Cork, said, "It’s a real honour for me to be competing in Tokyo, it’s something that I have dreamed about. In Banteer, where I’m from, there’s a strong Olympic heritage. Ireland’s first gold medallist, Pat O’Callaghan, was from near where I live. This makes competing all the more special.”

Team Ireland Road Cycling Team Leader, Tommy Evans added, “We have one of our strongest teams ever assembled with a real opportunity to perform on terrain that we know suits our team. Nicholas, Dan and Eddie have all produced fantastic results this season, showing we can compete with the best in the World.”


Dan Martin

Nicolas Roche

Eddie Dunbar

Team Ireland now consists of 59 officially selected athletes, with over 100 athletes spots confirmed across nineteen sports SEE HERE. The final team announcement is scheduled for the beginning of July. The Olympic Games in Tokyo will run from the 23rd July to 8th August 2021.

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