SAN JUAN, Argentina (VN) — Ryan Mullen blasted into his new team, Trek-Segafredo, in style, winning the Vuelta a San Juan time trial on stage three. It was the team’s first victory of the 2018 season.
Mullen — or “Don Pablo” as his team called him after darkly tinting his mustache — joined Trek-Segafredo after spending his first two professional years with the Slipstream Sports outfit. Trek-Segafredo general manager Luca Guercilena gave him his orders and 23-year-old Mullen obliged.
“He said, ‘You’ve got to kick some ass.’ So far so good,” Mullen told VeloNews.
“I’m trying to keep the ball rolling, trying to go into every time trial, providing it’s not too hilly, just to try to win as much as I can this year. And to retain my titles in the Irish championship, in the road and time trial, both are high up on my list. I also want to go to the European champs and try to take a win there too.”
Mullen’s ginger mustache hardly stood out. His teammates, including Americans Gregory Daniel and Peter Stetina, bought him hair dye to solve the problem ahead of the Vuelta a San Juan’s final stage in Argentina.
The atmosphere remained high thanks to Mullen, who gave Trek-Segafredo an early win. Mullen, who aims to win time trials, including the world championships, was thrilled simply to join under Guercilena. The Italian manager guided Fabian Cancellara for several years as national team coach and also when the Swiss powerhouse rode for Trek. Mullen is also built for classics, like Cancellara, and will race them in a supporting role this year.
Mullen’s palmarès indicates he is heading toward greatness. He placed second by 0.48 seconds in the under-23 world championship time trial in 2014 and fourth, just 11 seconds from a bronze medal, in the 2016 elite worlds time trial.
“It’s pretty big for me, it’s one of the best teams in the world. Maybe you can see that from what they did to my pathetic mustache today, they dyed it and call me ‘Don Pablo’ now,” Mullen added.
“The team promises faster equipment, and more support, that aspect, and having the support behind me is a big motivation. I just don’t want to let anyone down really.
“There is huge internal support and everyone is proud, the first win of the year, and it’s nice to get that for the team, but I’ve been outdone by John Degenkolb, who’s won twice this week!”
Mullen’s program will see him race the Volta ao Algarve, again for the time trial win, the Tirreno-Adriatico for the final 10-kilometer time trial and then line up for the classics with John Degenkolb and Jasper Stuyven.
“I’ll be there as much as I can for him and happy to support anyone who needs to be to be supported,” explained Mullen.
“The classics are something for my body type. They are two of the best guys to learn from. John Degenkolb won Paris-Roubaix and he’s been up there in a lot of the classics, and Jasper’s up and coming and will probably win Roubaix one day too. Just to be on the same team as these guys is a good environment for learning.”