By Christian Hannigan
With the Enduro World Series and UCI Downhill World Cup seasons fast approaching, who are Ireland’s top prospects in the world of mountain biking for 2022?
For a country not blessed with alpine-style peaks in comparison to much of the rest of Europe and further afield, Ireland has produced multiple competitors at the highest level in the sport of mountain biking. With young talent from Ireland quickly coming of age and getting the opportunity to compete on the world stage Ireland’s chances of being on the podium is growing.
Irish cycling got a new World Champion in 2020, with the arrival of then 17-year old Oisín O’Callaghan from Limerick onto the UCI Junior World cup circuit. With a time of 4:02.142, Oisín was 2.141 seconds faster than second-place Dan Slack. Racing for the YT Mob Oisín truly embodied the acronym YT(young talent) when he won his World champion title in Austria.
For 2022 Ronan Dunne and Chris Cumming are racing together on team Continental Nukeproof Racing. They’re just another example of the new breed of up-and-coming Irish racers. Ronan and Chris have both been Irish National Champions on multiple occasions and they are no stranger to the top step of the podium. Ronan and Chris are competing at various events in 2022, such as Crankworx, UCI downhill world cup and the IXS Downhill Cup.
Dan Wolfe is riding for Polygon bikes, FSA, Wilderness Trail Bikes and his other sponsors in 2022. Suffering multiple shoulder injuries during the 2021 Enduro World Series, meant Dan had to go under the knife over the winter to compete in the 2022 season and beyond. Dan is a staple in the Irish mountain biking scene. Having garnered a strong following on social media at the end of the 2021 EWS, Dan began working more with Pinkbike on the media side of things.
Niall Clerkin, a privateer rider, is another young gun who finished off the 2021 season with a first-place finish at the Vitus First Tracks Enduro Cup. Niall has also been competing at the IXS Downhill Cup like Ronan and Chris.
Ronan Gahan and Darragh Walsh are now in the men’s elite category for downhill at the UCI Downhill World Cup. Both are eager to succeed in the sport. Backed up by their results at a national level, they have shown promise they can also compete internationally.