Fifth for Clifford in sprint finish while Keane swims PB to qualify for final

Day nine is well underway for team Ireland at Rio 2016, with cyclists Eoghan Clifford and Colin Lynch first up on the road earlier for the C1-C3 Road Race. Clifford; who won gold in the Time Trial on Wednesday was one of the top seeds going into the race, which incorporated riders from the Men’s C1 and C2 categories as well as his own C3 class, and finished in fifth position following a sprint finish to conclude 71.1km race.

With a high pace set in the opening lap, a lead break of six C3 riders pulled away from a bunch that included reigning World Champion Masaki Fujita from Japan. By the second lap, World bronze medallist Eduardo Santas Asensio of Spain was also distanced, with Clifford and Fabio Anobile of Italy setting a high pace. In the final lap, the pace remained fast with the Irish endurance rider keen to drop his opponents and the race came down to a sprint finish, in which a very disappointed Clifford came fifth after his chain slipped barely 200m from the line.

“I did a good race. I felt good coming into the sprint; just unfortunately with 200m to go my chain came off. That’s bike racing really. Today I felt very good. I did everything I could do. These things happen, it’s disappointing,” said a philosophical Clifford at the end of the race.

Having a team mate in the race was also beneficial for Clifford he acknowledged, with Lynch playing a key part in the establishment of a break: “Colin got in the early break and that was good. A couple of the other teams had to chase so when they pulled it back I went and about eight of us got away.  On the first lap there was a lot of attacking on the hills and it whittled it down to six. For the next lap and a half there were six of us, again there was a bit of attacking and there it got whittled a bit more. In the last lap we really let fly at each other, there was a volley of attacks on the hills.”

Lynch, who finished in 24th position, was happy to work for his teammate today: “I did my best to stay at the front and just at the right time I was able to jump away with one of the riders and create a little bit of a gap. I think it created a bit of panic behind and I thought it was perfect, if I can get a little bit up the road with one of the riders then Eoghan could jump across.”

Clifford and Lynch will now pick up team duties for the tandems who will be in action tomorrow in the WB and MB Tandem Road Races. Lynch said: “I will be coming out for the tandem race to hand out bottles, be a part of their race and hopefully the team can win another medal.”

Meanwhile over in the swimming pool, Ellen Keane was back in action today swimming in the S9 100m Backstroke heats and tipping home in a lifetime best time of 1.15.44 to secure her spot in the final.

“I’m really happy with that, I just wanted to go out there and make that final, I didn’t want my Games to be over, I’m really excited about tonight. I’ve been working on my Backstroke a lot over the past year, I used to hate Backstroke, but I’ve been doing it so much in training, so whenever I have a choice in training now I pick it.”

The SB8 100m Breaststroke Bronze medallist is having an outstanding week and will compete in her third final in as many days tonight at 9.50pm (Irish time).

The remaining Irish interest today sees sailors John Twomey and crew of Austin O’Carroll and Ian Costelloe take on race nice and ten at the Marina da Gloria venue. They currently lie eleventh overall.

NewsMary McGuireNews, Rio 2016