Sean Kelly accepts that Ryan Mullen’s future may lie away from the An Post Chain Reaction team, yet still has high hopes for his future. “The exciting thing about Mullen is he’s wants to invest. Last year there were a lot of offers, and he could have made more money, but he wants to invest in his career and that’s what you’ve got to do when you’re coming from more track, and not doing a lot of road racing.”
Kelly, who was speaking yesterday in Gent, Belgium ahead of the An Post Chain Reaction Team launch, believes that by staying with a smaller team, the 21 year old will learn more than by taking a big money move at such a young age. “He knows that he has to do that and invest in his career, that’s the reason he’s still with us. The straight facts of it is with our team he can do the races, he can ride a final, and that’s the way you get the experience. You ride the races, and ride a full race for yourself. You’re also maybe more protected in the team and looked after a bit. Of course, for a young guy, the offers that were out there were many times more than we were able to offer him. I think he realised as well that last year he was getting a lot of experience in how to ride the races. He was prepared to make that investment and stay with us for another year. I feel that with the power he’s got, he should be able to the classic races with a bigger team in the next year or two years. The figures are there, he should be able to have a very good career.”
Having been crowned both the Irish Elite RR champion and Irish U23 TT champion last year, Mullen’s potential is undeniable. Yet for Kelly, he’s just happy if his team can continue to improve young cyclists and help them to take the next step in their career. “That’s always been the objective, that for the Irish guys we can get a bit more out of them every year, and that they can move on to a bigger level. At a point its disappointing, because you lose the guys. A guy is doing well, but we only have him for two years and when he starts doing well he’s pinched by a bigger team with a bigger budget. It’s also a good thing because they are successful. We always hope that we can produce, and with the Irish riders we can move them on. Kurt (Bogaerts, team manager) of course wants to move on the Belgians!” The An Post Chain Reaction team will be officially launched today, ahead of the Volta Limburg Classic which begins in the Netherlands on Saturday.