Australian stint pays off for “absolutely buzzing” Conor McCann

Posted on: March 10th, 2018

Conor McCann emerged from the wet conditions to win the Spires GP. He said training with top pro riders in Australia helped him over winter (All photos by Sharon McFarland)


Conor McCann on training in Australia with pros


Having come back from career-threatening injuries sustained in a car crash traveling to a race Conor McCann was a delighted winner at the Spires GP today.

The Inspired Cycling rider infiltrated the winning breakaway. And he executed his final sprint to the line to perfection.

It was a confidence-boosting win for the just turned 20-year-old who is hoping to progress this year.

He told stickybottle he was “absolutely buzzing” having won the Spires CC-promoted event in Ballyronan, Magherafelt.

“I knew I was going well and I think I played the race pretty spot on,” he said.

“So it’s a perfect start to the season and a good confidence boost. I didn’t win anything last year so it’s a long time coming.

“You can’t beat that feeling of winning again,” he said, adding the bad weather suited him.

From the moment he got up this morning and saw the wet weather he knew many of his rivals wouldn’t fancy the conditions.

On the other hand he knew he “was really up for it”.

“I want to be knocking on the door of U23 Irish teams this year too. So I’m hoping the results keep coming,” he said.

McCann showed his enthusiasm from the start today; jumping across to the A3 group with a number of others.

That advantage gained was to be short-lived as the field was back together not long after.



“Caldwell’s rode really solid on the front for a few laps,” he said of the Omagh club that boasts several very strong riders.

“Then seven of us got away with 1½ laps to go. When Craig McAuley and Darnell Moore were there from Caldwell it seemed pretty safe to stay away.”

Indeed, McCann felt that such was the strength of the Caldwell Omagh outfit that the presence of two of their strong riders in the escape significantly weakened the escape.

McAuley had won this race last year so knows how to ride it. Likewise, Moore is a handful; winning national elite titles in the hill climb and cyclocross disciplines since the 2017 road racing season ended.

And there were also some other strong men in the group that are never easy to beat Among them were Richard Maybin (Team Madigan), Lyndsay Watson (Power House Sport) and Dominic McCartan (Apollo CC); a formidable trio.

But McCann kept his nerve and got his time right in the sprint. And in the end he had too much for the others.

“I opened up my sprint as late as possible because of the slow drag to the line. And thankfully had plenty in the tank to take it,” he said.

McCann was quick to point to Stephen Gallagher as somebody to thank after his win. The last Irishman to win the Rás overall, Gallagher established the Dig Deep Coaching business a few years ago.

He has since relocated to Australia and extended a warm welcome to his fellow Ulsterman over the off season; some McCann said he was very grateful for.

And under the guidance of Gallagher he put in some solid training.

“The good weather and so many strong cyclists made training so good; easy to get the miles in,” he said of Perth.

“Group rides there are insanely goo. Maybe 60 people turn up. And you’re chopping off at 60kph with some of the pros over there. It’s the best training possible.

“I was starting to have problems with my back again at the end of last season in Belgium. So I had to work hard on all that to get back on track.”

Indeed McCann has overcome more than most his age to get himself into winning shape. An unfortunate accident traveling to a race in the UK in 2015, when a team car tyre blew out, saw McCann suffer fractured vertebrae.

He is long back to good health and indeed has won races since his return. But today’s was his biggest victory.

“It was great having all the time in Australia to work on that,” he said of his knew niggle.

“And because of the weather it’s easy to lean down as well; despite how good Tim Tam biscuits are,” he said.

“Having people like Stephen and Graeme Brown (double Olympic champion) and a few others showing you how to ride in the bunch at such high speeds is invaluable as well.”