Six years after almost winning the An Post Rás as one of the youngest ever riders, Connor McConvey is back where it all started for him at An Post Chain Reaction.
The 27-year-old Belfast man quit cycling at the end of that 2010 season and pursued other interests in life, only to return to the sport a year later.
Results proved hard to come by and he left the squad again at the end of 2012, spending the interim years chopping and changing teams like a striker looking to rediscover his form.
“It just got to September in 2010 and basically, I was mentally cracked and physically broken from cycling,” he admitted.
“I had been pretty full-on just training from a young age, straight out of school and into it. So I had already had a long enough career. I said, ‘right, I’ve had enough’ and I walked away. I went skiing, learnt to be a ski instructor and I just taught for that winter.”
He’s picked up results here and there but crucially – no wins, despite a number of near misses. At this stage of his career, he knows he has to win soon if he is to make a career out of the sport.
But being back in what he calls the “An Post family” he knows he has everything he needs to move up to the next level. “In a way it feels like I’m just coming back to the same set-up,” he said at last night’s official team presentation in Calpe.
“You normally have a period of adaptation when you go into any other team but here, though almost all the riders are new it’s still a case of slotting straight back in and it’s great.”
The team for this year has a real Irish presence in it, with McConvey one of seven home-based men.
The others are; national road race champion Damien Shaw; Sean McKenna, Cycling Ireland’s man highest-ranked rider from 2015; Angus Fyffe, Daniel Stewart, Jack Wilson, and David Montgomery.
“I knew the Irish guys from back home but also a couple of the Belgians too because I’ve been teammates with them before and I’ve raced with them,” he added.
“So there’s not a lot of new acquaintances to be made and that’s a big plus as well; how you can go straight in and be yourself.”
While little might have been expected of McConvey when he joined the team in his early 20s, he knows that isn’t the case anymore.
“At my age, you’re a bit more experienced and you know you’ve a job to do and people know what you can do. I know what’s expected of me so basically I just gotta perform now, do my job for the team and get results.
“There is none of this ‘I couldn’t do it today’ and having a load of excuses down the length of your arm. You just do it,” he explained.
“Some of that has come from the team, then some of that has come from myself. I just have to be at the level for the season and the pressure comes from myself to do what needs to be done.
“In addition to that, the team has been so successful – guys bounce off each other.
“You are winning races and you know that has won one, he has got a result, now it is my turn. It forces you to do it. That is one of the reasons I joined; they’ve a winning pedigree.”
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