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Conor Dunne: 'We need to make an impact at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad'

Josh Cunningham
24 Feb 2017

Aqua Blue Sport's Conor Dunne says the new Irish team aren't at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad simply to make up the numbers

Photo credit: Karen M. Edwards

This Saturday will mark the first appearance at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad for the new Irish team Aqua Blue Sport, and Conor Dunne, a neo-pro who also makes his debut at the race, is insistant that they are there to make an impact. 

'All the guys are up for it,' he told us on the eve of the Classics' traditional weekend opener, which includes Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on the Saturday and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on the Sunday. 'This is an important race for us as a team. It's a big stage so we definitely need to make an impact and show we aren't here to make up the numbers.' 

Dunne comes to the team from the British Continental outfit JLT-Condor, but before that he spent two years at the AnPost-Chain Reaction team, during which time he gained experience in races like Kuurne, Nokere Koers and Driedaagse van West Vlaanderen. 

'Omloop is WorldTour though so it's going to be a quality field. It's going to be a lot harder and a lot faster to those races I've done in the past.'

The 6 foot 8 Irishman has already tasted some success this year, taking second behind Team Sky's Luke Rowe in stage two of the Herald Sun Tour in Australia back in January. In switching from sunshine to cobbles though he says he's managed to retain his form, despite struggling with some jetlag from the return journey back to Europe, and that he's looking to get into the day's early breakaway at Omloop.

Photo: Con Chronis

'We need to have our team meeting later and see what the DS [Niki Sorensen] thinks, but I'll be trying for the early break. There will be a few of us looking to get in it, so we'll be at the front and racing aggressively. The break should go before we hit the climbs as we've got 50km of normal roads first, but it's going to be a bloody hard race so I'm just going to get stuck in.'

Beyond this weekend, Aqua Blue Sport's Classics campaign is set to continue with races such as the Amstel Gold Race and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

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