Mountain biking is a good starting point for young riders

Eamon McConvey at his McConvey Cycles shops on the Ormeau Road in south Belfast.
Eamon McConvey at his McConvey Cycles shops on the Ormeau Road in south Belfast.

Eamon McConvey, a keen mountain biker, feels that young cyclists would do better do start in that sport first before progressing onto the road racing discipline.

He said: “Riding a mountain bike gives the kids a good grounding on how to manage cycling and to upgrade their skills levels.

“Even in the professional peleton at the minute there are a lot of guys, like Peter Sagan, who have come through the mountain bike ranks. That means they can really handle a bike and avoid a lot of pitfalls just because of their awareness.

“So if kids are kept in a safe environment, and mountain biking is generally very safe, then they can move on as they get older having gained the knowledge and the expertise on a bike.

“But as anyone will tell you, its getting those kids involved at the start. It’s all about getting more people involved in the sport, and that means getting more people on bikes.

“In that respect, it’s up to the councils maybe to get more cycle lanes put in. The more people you have safely cycling, the more people you are going to get road racing and that in turn will see the clubs flourish.

“The way clubs look at things is that you have this big triangle with a large group of people at the bottom and obviously the more talented the cyclist becomes, that pool obviously becomes smaller.

“Then hopefully at the apex of the triangle if you one or two stand-out performers, then that could be your future champions.

Presently we have Marty Irvine, a world track champion who is top of the crop and then there is Eamon’s own son Connor who was second in the An Post Ras last year and is on the same UCI Pro Synergy Baku Cycling team as Irish TT champion Matthew Brammeier.

Of course we have Nicholas Roche, Philip Deignan and Dan Martin, who will be riding in the Giro while, Sam Bennett, Sean Downey and 20-year-old Jack Wilson who are keeping the flag flying at a lower level.

So after all the carnival atmosphere of the Giro, can we then see cycling grow and grow, and can we see more champions coming through?

Only time will tell.