Stickybottle

Two Irish U23 riders in Team Wiggins squad unveiled for 2019

Posted on: January 14th, 2019

Ben Healy Michael O'Loughlin Wiggins Le Col

Two Irish cyclists may have moved on from the Wiggins Le Col Continental team over the off-season, but there are still two in the team for 2019. Michael O’Loughlin is staying on, and teenager Ben Healy, above, is a new signing.

 

Ben Healy, Michael O’Loughlin in Wiggins Le Col team

 

The Wiggins Le Col team has unveiled its line-up for the season ahead, with two Irish riders in the fold this time around.

Michael O’Loughlin, the national U23 TT champion, stays on for another season with the British Continental team. It will be his fourth year with the outfit.

And young Ben Healy, the national junior TT champion, has been signed as a new rider for the season ahead.

 

 

Healy’s inclusion in the team is a healthy sign for Irish cycling; Wiggins Le Col clearly continuing to look to the Irish market to scout for new signings.

And with Irishman and cycling agent Andrew McQuaid as the team’s general manager; that will hopefully continue.

Matt Teggart and Mark Downey rode with the British team last year. But having now aged out of the U23 category, they have moved on.

Both out of the Banbridge CC stable, they will ride for the new EvoPro Racing team during the 2019 road racing season.

“The vision over the last couple of seasons was to become one of the leading development teams in the sport,” said McQuaid of Wiggins Le Col.

“And we are grateful to have the continued support of great sponsors like Pinarello, Le Col, SRAM, Zipp and Quarq who help us support that vision.

“We have a roster full with young ambitious talent again this season and I am excited for us to begin racing in February,” he said in reference to the Tour of Antalya from the 21st to 24th of that month.

The key figure in the team, and the man whose name in rides under, Bradley Wiggins said he was proud of what the squad have achieved to date. The set-up wanted more out of the coming season, he added.

“The bar gets higher and higher each year and the team’s results last season is testament to that,” he said.

“I am really looking forward to seeing the riders… compete for WIGGINS Le Col again this season combined with some of the new young talent we’ve added. It’s very exciting”

As well as Healy and O’Loughlin, also in the line-up for next year at British riders Lawrence Carpenter, Mark Donovan, Tom Pidcock, Oliver Robinson, Jacques Savage, Robert Scott and Daniel Tulett.

Kiwi James Fouché, who won the New Zealand road title last week, is also in the roster as well as Samuel Jenner of Australia and Corentin Navarro of France.

Ben Healy has ridden in recent years with Zappi Racing Team; a UK-based outfit that competes in some of the biggest junior and U23 races in Europe.

Healy declared for Ireland just last year and won the junior time trial crown in Sligo in June. A few days later he took silver in the road race behind Adam Ward.

Before introducing himself with a bang to the Irish set-up at the championships, Healy won a stage of the SPIE Internationale Juniorendriedaagse.

 

Ben Healy Michael O'Loughlin Wiggins Le Col

Michael O’Loughlin takes 4th place at the nationals; smiling at former team mate Mark Downey just ahead (Photo: Sean Rowe)

 

Furthermore, he was also 7th overall in that UCI 2.1-ranked junior race in Holland in May. And he was 5th overall in the Ronde des Vallées (2.1) in France in August.

Healy took 14th in the TTs at both the junior Worlds and Europeans. And in the road race at the Worlds in Innsbruck he rode strongly for 25th place.

Clearly a strong rider against the watch, Wiggins Le Col has selected him on the strength of his performances in Europe during both of his junior years.

And he looks like a very exciting prospect, now with a place on a very useful development team.

 

O’Loughlin back for more

Michael O’Loughlin endured a season last year that he will look to move on from quickly.

But a mark of his class is how well he did in the latter part of the campaign despite being wiped out with illness and injury until the summer arrived.

With very little racing in his legs, O’Loughlin came back to win the U23 time trial at the nationals. He was also 4th in the combined elite and U23 road race; good enough for the U23 bronze.

He was 7th on a stage and 2nd in the climbers’ classification at the Tour Alsace (2.2) in August; his first international stage race event in good health last year.

Weeks later in the Tour de l’Avenir he was repeatedly on the attack; staying away one day for 4th place and showing the form he has of recent seasons.

And it is that ability that Wiggins Le Col is backing; staying with O’Loughlin based on his long-term prospects despite a difficult season last year.

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