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Adam Rafferty looking focused on his way to the U23 TT gold medal in Limerick at the National Road Championships (Photo: Sean Rowe)

Adam Rafferty has just packed away his pens after A Levels commitments in recent weeks but that didn’t stop the Co Tyrone teenager winning the Irish U23 TT title at the National Road Championships in Limerick last night.

Last year’s junior title winner, Rafferty said he was delighted to have the legs to win the U23 title, adding he could now look ahead to the rest of the season with his Hagens Berman Jayco team with optimism.

He emerged from a very strong U23 field with the gold medal over the 36.6km course in Athea, beating silver medal man Dean Harvey (Trinity Racing) by 32 seconds. Liam O’Brien (Lidl-Trek Future Racing) was 3rd at 1:12.

“It’s nice to be able to keep the title after moving up a year group,” Rafferty (18) said of transitioning from being junior champion last year and now taking the U23 TT title, won by his brother, Darren Rafferty (EF Education-EasyPost), 12 months ago.

“It was a very hard course but I love that. It was a very European type of course, not what we’re used to here. There was a lot of corners, ups and downs, different road surfaces. So it was an exciting course.”

Adam Rafferty topped a high quality podium from Dean Harvey and Liam O’Brien (Photo: Sean Rowe)

And though Rafferty rode very well for his trade team abroad early in the season, he has been forced to put his racing on the backburner in recent weeks due to his exams, but has also been sure to keep his hand in, with an eye firmly fixed on the remainder of the season.

“I haven’t had much racing, I’ve been doing exams for the last two months,” he confirmed. “So I’ve just been doing a couple of time trials during the week, and I had my first race there last Sunday

“So it’s just good to know that I’m at that level (to win a Nationals TT) going into the summer. And it brings me good confidence for the year going ahead.”

And though he clearly has good legs, he said he would have to wait and see how Sunday’s road race goes. It will be the first time he has ridden the combined elite-U23 road race at a Nationals and knows it will be very hard against the older and more established riders.

“We’ll see, it’s a big race being in with the elites, it’s gonna be hard but we’ll give it a go,” he said.

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