Cian Keogh’s progress jumps forward on slopes of Glenmalure

Posted on: May 17th, 2019
Cian Keogh has gradually increased his commitment to cycling and now the results are starting to show (Photo: Conor McKeown)

A great competitor in recent seasons as he has taken a more serious approach to cycling, Cian Keogh’s development took a big step forward last weekend.

The Ciclotel Travel YPB rider spent about 70km of the Shay Elliott Memorial clear in the winning breakaway.

And though Ronan McLaughlin got away from him in the closing stages to win, the second-year U23 rider took a very strong runner-up spot.

He was just 40 seconds down on the winner but the guts of four minutes up on a chase group containing some heavy hitters.

While Keogh modestly said he was surprised to survive the climbs with McLaughlin, who also won last year, the signs have been there for a while he was due a breakthrough.

Last season when competing with Sports Room he was part of the four-man line-up that won the Irish team pursuit title; with David O’Sullivan, Mark Smith and Sean Murnane.

He also took a victory on Mondello last year as well as the Brendan Campbell Memorial, and a whole host of other results.

This year as well as his runner-up placing last weekend, he has bagged 2nd and 3rd at Mondello and did a strong ride at Rás Mhaigheo with 7th overall.

Always a welcome moment; the finish line in the Shay Elliott. Keogh was runner-up in a stacked field over one of the hardest courses of the year (Photo: Sean Rowe)

His national track title last year ranks as his best result. And while not getting carried away with his ride last weekend, he is hopeful of more progress.

He got clear in a 21-man breakaway before attacking it and being caught. McLaughlin (Dan Morrissey-MIG-Pactimo) countered with Mark Quigley (Strata 3-VeloRevolution).

After they got away, and though 70km remained to be raced, Keogh went after them and bridged the gap.

By the Glenmalure climb they had 1:30 on the chasers; Quigley dropping back on the climb as Keogh and McLaughlin pressed on.

And that was the way it stayed until about 7km to go when McLaughlin attacked on an incline and got clear of Keogh, who has just turned 20 years old.

“I never performed at underage or as a first year junior. I was always just doing it for the enjoyment,” said Keogh.

“I started training more as a second year junior in 2017 and last year I went from A3 to A1 in the first three months of the season as a first-year U23,” he said.

On the way to the elite Irish team pursuit title in 2018 (Photo: Paul Atkinson)

He then went on to race well through last year; his two wins and other results proof of that.

“After getting results last year off approximately 10 hours training a week, I decided to see if I could improve by upping the hours over the winter,” he said.

Last winter included six weeks training in Calpe. And while he felt in good shape going into the season he has continued to get stronger since then after overcoming some recent bouts of illness.

Now working as a bike mechanic, he is combining that with his racing and, like most young riders, spending the majority of his earnings on his cycling.

“In recent weeks I’ve been able to build back my form and I feel strong again,” he said of recovering from his three illness-related setbacks.

“I headed into the Elliott as the first time I was in the A1 race. I wasn’t sure what to expect,” he said.

Winning at the Mondello Series in Co Kildare last season (Photo: Sean Rowe)

“But having made the early breakaway my legs felt good and I thought I could maybe pull off a top six.

“My plan was to get away solo or with a small group before the Glenmalure climb. I couldn’t quite believe that I came in four minutes ahead of the chasing group.

“It felt like a big relief to perform in that kind of race. I feel more confident the win is coming soon.

“My team has great opportunities to race in Belgium through our sponsor Ciclotel Travel. And I’ll look to make use of that throughout the next few months.

“I’ve progressed solidly year after year, with the power numbers increasing all the time.

“So I’ll keep chipping away and see where the sport takes me. I’m still second year U23 so I have lots of time to keep improving.”