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Archie Ryan in his first race action for EF Education-EasyPost in Adelaide at Santos Tour Down Under Classic (Photo: Dion Kerckhoffs-Cor Vos)

Archie Ryan (EF Education-EasyPost) and Ryan Mullen (Bora-hansgrohe) have gotten their 2024 season underway at the Tour Down Under Classic, which was Ryan’s debut for his new team.

The event is the traditional curtain-raiser for the Santos Town Down Under, which both Irish riders will compete it and which gets underway next Tuesday.

While the short and sharp contest around the streets of Adelaide, for just an hour, is normally reserved for the sprinters, it was won this time around by the breakaway men, with Ryan in the thick of the action just behind.

He was leading out Sam Welsford, the man who replaces Sam Bennett as Bora-hansgrohe lead sprinter. They did not make an impact – Welsford and Mullen 15th and 16th respectively – though they will have plenty of time to fine tune next week.

Ryan and Welsford finished on the same time as race winner, Jhonnatan Narvaez; the Ineos Grenadiers rider sprinting in for victory after the bunch latched onto the back of the breakaway just before the line, but could not take victory from them.

For his part, debutant Ryan finished in a large group some 26 seconds down, placing 73rd in the 134-rider field.

Narvaez won ahead of Natnael Tesfazion (Lidl-Trek), Isaac Del Toro (UAE Team Emirates) and Harry Sweeny (EF Education-EasyPost). Fellow breakaway men, Gil Gelders (Soudal QuickStep) and Oscar Onley (dsm-firmenich PostNL), were 5th and 6th, with Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain Victorious) winning the bunch sprint for 7th.

Mullen and his team mates were in action to chase down Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-Quick Step) when he went clear solo for a lap. The Frenchman was caught, though the winning breakaway went away at about the halfway point and just about made it all the way.

While the breakaway only ever pulled out a maximum of 15 seconds, and Bora-hansgrohe was very active in the chase, the attackers just about made it with Narvaez taking an unlikely win.

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