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OFF-ROAD EVENTS : Shane Stokes Last Updated: 2 Apr 2018 - 8:45:17 PM

MCCONVEY READY FOR FIRST SEASON WITH FELT INTERNATIONAL
By Shane Stokes
8 Feb 2009,

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Connor McConvey
Connor McConvey is feeling good and looking forward to the year ahead as part of the Felt International MTB team. The Belfast rider has marked himself out as the biggest young talent in the Irish XC MTB and cyclo-cross scene, finishing a close second to Robin Seymour in a number of events, including both the recent cross championships and last summer’s MTB national title.

In August, he finished an excellent second in the Under 23 classification at the Bromont round of the World Cup. He was 25th overall in the Canadian event, and ended up sixth U23 in the final World Cup standings.

McConvey is getting reading for a season with the Felt International MTB team and is motivated by what he expects to be good racing form. “My winter has been excellent,” he told Irishcycling.com this week. “Firstly I've had a trouble-free winter which always helps. Secondly, myself and my coach have broken away from the mentality of hammering myself all winter doing six hour rides, which I did a lot of last year.

“The focus this year has really been on much more quality - not like real high intensity, just more quality. It's meant the hours have been less, but the figures are always really improving and I feel better for it.”

His good form in 2008 made him realise that he should step things up regarding the international scene. “I knew in the middle of the year there was a real possibility of signing for a team,” he explained. “It was just how I went about it. I sat down with a few people from Cycling Ireland and spoke a bit with a few others within the international MTB world. It was decided that I should maybe go down the route of going for a placement on a squad.

“I sent out a few performance plans and a few good offers came back, including offers of more than just a placement. I basically just talked through the offers with a few people, and Felt was definitely the best set up and the team giving me the most. It's really exciting.”

McConvey will be living in Fayance this year, which he says is approximately 30 minutes from Nice and ten minutes from Frejus. It sounds like this will be a good arrangement. “The team wanted me to stay with some of the more experienced riders in order to learn from them. I had a few options; Switzerland, Germany, but I can speak French so it made sense to go there. Maybe it will make the leap that bit easier. Also, Miguel Martinez [2000 Olympic and world champion] was very eager to guide me, so the opportunity was too good to pass. In addition to that, Julien Absalon lives in the same village and Cedric Ravanel lives a few kilometres away. There's a lot of road pros there also.”

Aside from learning through speaking to and training with these riders, a very good racing schedule should also help him to develop, even though he refers to it as ‘nuts’, and says it is probably the biggest challenge facing him. But providing he balances racing, training and resting correctly, McConvey should steadily gain strength and experience.

“I will be doing all the World Cups, Swiss Cups and Bundesliga races….all WC, HC and C1's,” he said. “I start with a team camp, including 2 Italian races, from March 1-8. Then I go out with the team to South Africa for a three week camp, leading up to the first World Cup out there.”

That race will be held on April 12th. After that, he’ll head back to Europe and do the World Cups plus a few German HC races there. That’ll be intense but he will take a break mid May in order to recharge his batteries, then will build up again for the remainder of the season and the European, national and world championships.

“The whole experience is going to be a big learning curve, so I'm under no illusions there,” he said. “I'd like to think I'll be able to take my chances in some races. To be regularly riding top 30 in the biggest World Cups is the level I want to move to. If I can make that leap, the results will come in the other races.

“Specifically, I want to be firing on all cylinders for the first three World Cups in South Africa, Offenburg and Houffalize. Then I'll build up for the Europeans and nationals in July, then finish off with the worlds in Australia. I really think a high placing (top 5-8) is possible in the [under 23] worlds and Europeans.”

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