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Dean Harvey leads Eddie Dunbar at the front of the men’s elite-U23 race in the closing stages at the National Road Championships (Photo: Toby Watson)

Dean Harvey (Trinity Racing) is back in the national champion’s kit after winning the U23 gold medal in the men’s road race at the National Road Championships in Athea, Co Limerick, on Sunday.

The 21-year-old finished 4th in the combined elite-U23 men’s race, the second time in his career he has taken that position. That was good enough to take U23 gold, adding to the gold he won in the category two years ago.

He also took the silver medal from the U23 TT in last Thursday, and last year, as well as junior road race silver three years ago and two golds in the elite National Cyclocross Championships over the past two seasons.

However, though his championship haul is building impressively, and he put up a very strong ride on Sunday, he was left to rue what might have been. He escaped in the final in what looked like a winning two-man move just before two others countered and rode to elite gold and silver.

In the sprint for the elite bronze medal, Townsend takes it from Harvey, who was 4th over the line and the U23 gold medal winner (Photo: Toby Watson)

Those two other late attackers were, of course, race winner Darren Rafferty (EF Education-EasyPost) and runner-up Dillon Corkery (St Michel-Mavic-Auber 93).

Harvey, Corkery and Rafferty were among a five-man group – also containing Eddie Dunbar (Team Jayco AlUla) and former champion Rory Townsend (Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team) – that rode clear of a larger day-long breakaway after the first of the 5km closing circuits.

That meant Harvey was the only rider present eligible for an U23 medal. However, he had his eyes on a bigger prize – the elite medals – and went clear with Dunbar on the circuits. But they were chased down and just as they were caught Rafferty and Corkery took flight.

Eventually, Harvey finished with Townsend in a two-up gallop for the elite bronze medal; taken by Townsend, with Harvey 4th and the U23 gold medal winner. He topped that U23 podium ahead of Patrick O’Loughlin (Panduit Carrick Wheelers) and last year’s U23 road race champion, Jamie Meehan (CC Étupes).

Dean Harvey leads breakaway men Eddie Dunbar, Dillon Corkery, Conn McDunphy, Leo Doyle and Adam Rafferty (Photo: Toby Watson)

”It’s nice to have it back after losing it last year,” said Harvey of taking U23 gold again. “Hopefully, I get to wear it in a race this time because last time I won it I didn’t wear it at all, so it’s nice to have it back.

“I came in more focused on the elite race than the U23 race, that’s always secondary. But once I got in that move, I saw who was in it and I knew that was it.

“So it’s just nice when you get into that sort of move and you can relax a bit. And then on the small circuit, it was just about saving (the legs) and trying to make a plan. It wasn’t perfect in the end, but I was happy with the way it went so I can’t complain.

“I was with Eddie and then we got brought back and then Dillon and Darren countered my move and that’s how they got away.

“And then I ended up with Rory, which I was happy enough about because the gap stayed stable. But then towards the end we both just ran out of legs and we couldn’t get them back.”

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