Brandon McNulty Is Riding High Headed Into Friday’s Time Trial World Championship
by Bob Reinert
Brandon McNulty knows exactly what he’s up against in Friday’s individual time trial at the UCI Cycling World Championships in Scotland.
“I’ve looked a bit at the course,” McNulty said. “It looks, obviously, super long — 47.8 (kilometers) is one of the longest ones we’ll do. There’s a few climbs but nothing crazy and not too technical or anything, just the hard climb on the finish, I think on some (cobblestones). It’s just going to be a long effort, maybe close to an hour or so.”
The 25-year-old McNulty, who’s originally from Phoenix, has been racing against the world’s best for several years now, including at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and the in Tour de France. Currently ranked No. 16 in the world time trial rankings, he’ll be going up against the world’s top riders in the solitary discipline this week.
“My goal is just to execute really as best as I can,” he said. “It’s tough to go there with any huge goals because there’s some really, really good riders that’ll be there. I just want to do my best and … see where it ends up.”
It’s been a strong season so far for McNulty.
He’s coming off the Tour de Pologne stage race in Poland, where he placed sixth. His UAE Team Emirates was the top team with a combined time of 78 hours, 54 minutes, 32 seconds.
“Right now, I’m just coming back into racing,” he said. “I was feeling pretty good for my first race after two months or so. I should be coming into a nice level for worlds and the rest of the season.”
Prior to that, McNulty claimed the U.S. time trial championship in June in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He negotiated wet roads to cover the 34.9 kilometers in 40:39.22 seconds, the fourth-best time ever on the course.
In May, McNulty won Stage 15 of the Giro d’Italia.
“I’ve been happy with the season,” McNulty said. “I’ve had some good races. My big goal for the year was to win a stage of a grand tour. So that was achieved in the Giro.”
McNulty enjoyed a breakout season in 2021. That year, he and UAE Team Emirates supported teammate Tadej Pogacar, who won the Tour de France. Also during that season, McNulty placed sixth in the road race and 24th in the time trial at Tokyo Olympics.
“The Olympic road race was probably one of my best days I’ve had on a bike, performance-wise, and just being out there in the Olympics was special,” McNulty recalled. “I had just come off the Tour (de France) that year, and you never know how you’re going to respond. You can either be really, really fit and flying or really tired. Luckily, I came out with really, really good legs after the Tour, and I had a great day.
“I would really like to go to [the Olympic Games Paris 2024] and do the [time trial] and the road race again. I think that would be really special for me.”
For now, Friday’s time trial is the focus for McNulty, who won the 2016 junior world championship in the discipline.
“I’m not sure there’s one thing or anything that makes me good at time trials,” he said. “I just always enjoyed it. Since I was young, I’ve always been pretty good at it.
“To win the worlds when I was a junior was super special. When you’re in the juniors, it’s kind of like your big goal is always the world championships, so that was a lot of fun to do that.”
Though he’s become a top road cyclist, McNulty actually began his cycling career riding off-road.
“Just going to these super easy mountain bike trails with my dad,” he said. “We’d just do that almost every weekend.”
For a time, McNulty raced on mountain and road bikes. Eventually, he just stayed on the road. Given his successes, it proved to be the right decision.
“There’s more races to do on the road in the U.S. and abroad, and it was obviously more of a legitimate career to pursue,” he said. “So, I just gravitated toward the road racing and just stuck with that.”
Still young, McNulty looks to continue to make his mark in the sport.
“I’d say my goals overall in my career are just to be as good of a rider as I can be, and I’d like to win something big,” he said. “A stage (win in) the Tour is also really a goal for me, I think.”