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Ben Healy was the Irish rider of the season by a considerable margin so it comes as no surprise that the most-read cycling story in RTE’s website was about him (Photo: Anouk Flesch-Skoda Tour de Luxembourg)

We often complain in the Irish cycling community that national broadcaster RTÉ does not do justice to cycling in its coverage. And that was certainly the case at times this year when so many Irish riders were high-achievers.

RTÉ has now released a list of the 10 ‘most read’ sports stories each month on this year, with one cycling story among the 120 stories listed for 2023.

It is perhaps no surprise that story was about Ben Healy (EF Education-EasyPost). But the monthly top 10 charts issued by RTÉ also offer insight into what content is most popular with readers, with a small number of sports dominating every month.

The sole Irish cycling story to make any of the top 10 ‘most read’ lists for each of the 12 months was a report about Healy winning stage 8 of the Giro d’Italia. It was a huge win, but made more special due to the manner of the victory; a 50km solo ride from a breakaway he had been in for almost 150km before he made his move.

That story – Ben Healy claims first ever Grand Tour stage win – was the 8th most popular sports story on in May.

Megan Armitage winning the final stage, and the overall, at Vuelta Extremadura Féminas; an historic day for Irish cycling

Overall, Gaelic Games – especially club and county football – dominate the lists, with rugby and golf also very popular. While soccer and horseracing feature through the year, neither sport is as popular as one may think.

The premiership and horseracing – both of which RTÉ invest huge resources in – are not listed very frequently. Most of the soccer stories that feature in the lists are generated by the Irish women’s team, which made the World Cup this year.

Stories about other female sports stars – including Katie Taylor and runner Rhasidat Adeleke – also feature prominently in the lists – available at this link.

The presence of Healy as the only cyclist that features in the 120 stories perhaps reveals Irish readers only recognise big wins in the biggest cycling races, rather than appreciating victories or other big performances in events that are not Grand Tours.

Megan Griffin made two significant pieces of history this year, when she was the first Irish woman to ride Paris-Roubaix and also the first Irish woman to make the podium in a World Tour race (Photo: Thomas Maheux)

And there were plenty of those this year, all covered by stickybottle and many of which were covered by RTÉ but simply don’t feature in the ‘most read’ lists.

Lara Gillespie (UAE Development Team) won two U23 European titles on the track. Archie Ryan (Jumbo Visma Development) and Darren Rafferty (Hagens Berman Axeon) were among the very best U23 road riders in the world, with results that included a stage win at Tour de l’Avenir and overall victory at Valle d’Aosta-Mont Blanc Cycling Tour.

Eddie Dunbar (Team Jayco AlUla) placed 7th overall at the Giro d’Italia while Rory Townsend (Bolton Equities Black Spoke) won Groupama Paris Val de Loire Trophy. Dillon Corkery (CC Étupes) claimed stage and overall victory at Rás Tailteann on home roads.

Sam Bennett (Bora-hansgrohe) had a quieter year than usual, though still won three races including two stages at Sibiu Cycling Tour (2.1). Hopefully he can get back where he belongs in 2024 with new team Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale.

Oisin O’Callaghan and Ronan Dunne celebrate an incredible Irish 1-2 at the UCI Downhill World Cup in Snowshoe, USA, in September (Photo: Bartek Wolinski)

Oisin O’Callaghan (The YT Mob) made history this year by winning a round of the UCI Downhill World Cupwith compatriot Ronan Dunne (Continental Nukeproof Factory Racing) 2nd; a massive day for both in Snowshoe.

There were also wins for our female riders, some of them historic. Megan Armitage, for example, became the first Irish women to win a UCI-ranked stage race. . . . The Arkéa Pro Cycling Team won the final stage to wrap up the GC victory in the Women’s Vuelta Extremadura (2.2).

Katie George Dunlevy and pilot Linda Kelly won two world titles on the roadin the TT and road race, in Scotland in August. Mia Griffin (Israel Premier Tech Roland) also took a huge result, and another first for Irish women, when she claimed 3rd in the one-day Tour of Guangxi in China.

It was the first ever World Tour podium by an Irish woman, with the same rider also winning two Rás na Mn stages this year and becoming the first Irish woman to ride Paris-Roubaix.

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