Eddie Dunbar took 20th in the Men's Under-23 Road Race at the World Road Championships in Innsbruck following an attacking performance from Team Ireland.

Dunbar raced out of the main group of favourites on the penultimate climb of five with 36km to go in an effort to make contact with the two leaders out front.

He got to within nine seconds of the two leaders, Ukrainian Mark Padun and Swiss rider Patrick Muller, in company with another Switzerland competitor Gino Mader.

Dunbar was clear for about 17km before being reabsorbed by the bunch on the final ascent of the demanding 7km Igls climb.

He paid for his earlier effort and eventually finished 3:23 behind new world champion Marc Hirschi of Switzerland.

Team manager Neil Martin set out a clear game plan that was designed to make the most of Dunbar's credentials and from the early kilometres of the 180km race, Darragh O'Mahony, Michael O'Loughlin and Conn McDunphy were the first three riders in the peloton, setting the tempo behind a group of three riders just over two minutes clear.

Dunbar sat fourth in the group with Daire Feeley fifth rider in the line and ready to support Dunbar should he need assistance.

O'Mahony and McLoughlin presented Dunbar into the first climb of an arduous alpine test in perfect position after just under 100km and O'Mahony and McDunphy, both fought back up front after difficult moments to make further important contributions.

Behind Dunbar, McDunphy finished 84th, an good result for a rider who only found out he was riding the race this week. The other three were listed as non-finishers.

"I didn’t feel good at all today which was disappointing because the guys rode so well," said Dunbar. 

"We rode to win the race today. I went in with the intention of winning and I would have been happy with nothing else.

"The third time up the climb when they went full (gas) and I just realised that, right, if the race comes down to the climb it’s not going to be my day today.

"I think the Irish lads deserve massive credit because they rode superbly today and I’ve never seen that.

"I’ve never seen any Irish team take control of a race like they did today, in a World Championship even, and they deserve a lot of credit for that.

"We had a meeting last night. We knew we could win the race and we gave ourselves the best possible chance of doing that. When push came to shove today I probably did let everyone down here but as I said it was just wasn’t my day my legs just didn’t show up.

"I was there mentally today but my legs weren’t and that’s disappointing because I had good form last week and I thought my prep coming into this and everything I’ve done, I don’t think I could have actually done it better."

Next on the schedule is the Women's Elite Road Race tomorrow with four tough climbs on the 156km route. Alice Sharpe goes for Ireland.