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Darren Rafferty has made himself useful at the pointy end of the action on debut for EF Education-EasyPost in Mallorca

Darren Rafferty, the 20-year-old Irishman from Co Tyrone, has made his debut for EF Education-EasyPost in Mallorca, putting in a strong showing at the end of four hours of racing.

Rafferty, the first Northern Irish cyclist to ride in the World Tour, and his team mates were hoping Marijn van den Berg could win today’s Trofeo Ses Salines-Felanitx (1.1), after the Dutch rider was victorious last year.

In the end, however, it was the French teenager Paul Magnier, on debut for Soudal-QuickStep, who pulled the trigger most decisively in the final to claim his first victory of 2024. The 19-year-old, and his Trinity Racing team mate from last year, Luke Lamperti, scored a 1-3 for Soudal-QuickStep.

Alberto Dainese, the Italian now riding for Tudor Pro Cycling Team, looked like he was the fastest man in the bunch sprint that decided the honours. However, he came from too far back to trouble Magnier and had to be content with 2nd place.

EF Education-EasyPost’s Van den Berg cut a frustrated figure crossing the line in 4th place. He was waving his arms about, apparently in protest at some the sketchy riding of others around him in the final into Felanitx after 181.2km of racing.

After enjoying a great start to the season – with several wins for its men’s and women’s teams – EF Education-EasyPost were one of the teams bossing the action at the front in the final 10-15km.

And Rafferty, though he is new to racing at this level, was to the fore in those efforts; riding on, or near, the front for a large chunk of the final 10km in a bid to pull his team mates into position.

Rafferty and British team mate, James Shaw, took up those duties before the final lead-out men tried to do their best for van den Berg.

However, the combination of Lamperti and Magnier was simply too good for the others. And though both were among the young debutants today, they teamed up well to make sure of the victory.

Once Rafferty had his work done at the front, he peeled off with about 3-4km remaining having made his contribution to the team’s efforts; clearly already comfortable at this level, though with much bigger challenges to come.

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