Why Irish cycling really needs An Post-Chainreaction to survive

Posted on: November 3rd, 2017

Irish cycling needs An Post Chainreaction

The loss of the An Post-Chainreaction team for 2018 is a blow. But losing it for good would be a huge setback, and it would put Cycling Ireland under serious pressure.


Just days after An Post-Chainreaction revealed it could not find the sponsors it needed to continue next year, we explore the reasons why Irish cycling really needs this team.

It has said while it will not operate next year, it is aiming to be back for 2019. And it still plans to one day move up to ProContinental level.


7 reasons Irish cycling needs An Post Chainreaction


1 They’re Irish

The team may be based in Belgium, and now has a secondary base in Girona, but it is very much Irish.

It’s had Irish sponsors, Irish riders and of course an Irish team principal in Sean Kelly.

While cycling has boomed in Ireland in recent years, we still only have two cycling teams; An Post-Chainreaction at Continental level and the ProContinental Aqua Blue Sport.

We definitely can’t afford to lose the Sean Kelly team on a long-term basis. Irish cycling is simply too small to absorb such a major loss.


2 It’s an attainable route for young Irish riders

7 reasons Irish cycling needs An Post-Chainreaction

The Aqua Blue Sport team has been a great addition to the cycling scene. But it’s a second tier team and is looking to go WorldTour.

That means it’s not an obvious stepping stone for young Irish riders. No young Irish cyclist is going to jump from the domestic scene into Aqua Blue Sport.

But young riders have progressed from the domestic peloton into An Post-Chainreaction. And with the team now gone – for next year at least – a really valuable stepping stone is gone.

Young riders can still go and race for top amateur teams abroad and there is still the UK Continental scene; something more Irish riders need to explore.

But losing Sean Kelly’s team for good would essentially wipe out a development step that has been very attainable for so many Irish riders.


3 It keeps Sean Kelly involved

Always in demand for his media work, Sean Kelly has never gone down the route of managing Irish teams or coaching riders.

But he has stayed involved in the development side via his involvement with An Post-Chainreaction.

And if the team were lost for good, Irish cycling may get no real input from Kelly in the development of our young talent.

That would be a great shame and would represent a loss of invaluable experience.


4 Because you don’t see passion like this too often


5 The riders enjoyed great back-up

The team was always kitted out really well, did a very decent calendar of races and always contributed greatly to the Rás.

For the riders who made it into the line-up; there was extensive back-up in the shape of several warm weather training camps per year and the use of houses in both Belgium and Girona.

And many riders who were trying to get into the team or had left it, benefitted from the support of the team.

Sam Bennett recently spoke of how the team took him in when he was injured.

And he said as a struggling would-be pro, the team organised medical treatment for his knees that he would never have been able to put in place himself.

That will all be missed greatly by the Irish cycling scene, though we hope only for one year.


6 The Irish national team benefitted

7 reasons Irish cycling needs An Post-Chainreaction

An Post-Chainreaction team managers Kurt Bogaerts and Neil Martin have worked with the national team on many occasions in recent years.

And the Continental team also committed its other resources, including race vehicles, to assist the national team.

Effectively, the resources of the trade team became Irish team resources during major international events. It would be a shame to see that collaboration lost.


7 Losing the team will put pressure on Cycling Ireland

Cycling Ireland’s high performance effort is very much geared towards the track, rather than the road.

It has been An Post-Chainreaction’s staff – rather than Cycling Ireland staff – who have taken on the high performance management function for the road team.

Effectively, Cycling Ireland staff have been able to put most of their efforts into paracycling and track cycling by outsourcing the management of road teams to An Post-Chainreaction.

If the team goes, national road teams will be much poorer for it. The road may end up being chronically neglected by Cycling Ireland.