“I hate mashed potatoes” – Q&A with Ryan Mullen

After three years at Cannondale, in which he wasn’t given the opportunity to ride a Grand Tour, last September Ryan Mullen signed with Trek-Segafredo on a two-year deal. The Irish road and time trial champion wasted no time repaying the bosses at his new team – as well as making a strong pitch for a place in their Giro squad – taking the Tour of San Juan individual TT in his first start of the season.  

Rouleur: What’s your favourite Irish food or drink?

Ryan Mullen: Ireland isn’t known for any particular food except for mashed potatoes and I hate mashed potatoes. It’d have to be Guinness.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a cyclist?

I was always into sports… It’s kind of hard to say because once I turned 12, 13, I wanted to be a pro cyclist and before that I didn’t really have any future ambitions. I was into rugby and stuff but that was because I was about 80 kilos when I was fourteen. I was the guy that used to get the ball and just smash through everybody. Then I went down the cycling path so… I probably would have ended up going to university, destroyed my liver somehow and ended up with £50k worth of debt. 

What’s the worst thing about being a professional cyclist?

Racing in Belgium. The style of racing suits me, it suits the generic kind of rider. You don’t see Chris Froome in Belgium because he’d get his arse kicked. It’s horses for courses, and sadly my body is suited for Belgium even though my mindset is… not. 

What’s your usual cafe stop order?

It depends if I’m bonked or not. Sometimes I’ll just have a black coffee, but yesterday I was riding four and a half hours on my own and I ordered a waffle and a creamy cappuccino. The race was actually on in the cafe and all these Belgians were really into it. I sat down, ordered a waffle and a cappuccino with a load of whipped cream and chocolate on top.

What’s your favourite part of the season?

The off-season. The only time when you don’t have to ride for three weeks and it just becomes a blur of intoxication and food.

What’s the worst defeat you’ve ever experienced?

The [under-23] Worlds in Ponferrada [in 2014]. I lost by zero point four of a second. And then the guy retired a year later. I was like: “couldn’t you have retired at the end of this year?” [Australian Campbell Flakemore retired from cycling after just one season as a professional with BMC, citing the “work and sacrifice required” to compete at the highest level of the sport.]

“I was into rugby and stuff but that was because I was about 80 kilos when I was fourteen. I was the guy that used to get the ball and just smash through everybody.”

What do you do to relax?

I watch Netflix, like a normal person I guess. I don’t really binge watch series, I just stick a movie on or something. I don’t really have the attention span for a series and the only one I’ve ever watched is Breaking Bad. I finished the whole thing in three weeks. I finished it and was like: “well now what do I do?” I just felt lost for about a week, so I didn’t do it ever again.

Which rider would you least like to have as your room-mate?

Someone French.

What’s your opinion on riders with beards?

Some guys look alright with them. Others look ridiculously homeless.

What about tattoos?

I haven’t got any but they look good on some people. Some guys are covered in them, on their backs and everything, and then when they crash it gets all scratched away and you’re like: “you didn’t think that one through.”

How do you feel about social media?

I just don’t like how no-one has a sense of humour anymore. You say the wrong thing and there’s a twitter war. It’s all about being politically correct. I’ll say what I want to say, it’s my Twitter account. You represent the team, or the company or a brand and you have to not be you, which is annoying. I’ll write what I want to write but sometimes I say it how it is a bit too much. I don’t really have a filter sometimes.

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