Going full-time in the Far East
One of the UCI's aims is to make cycling a more global sport, and the new Continental Tours are one way to help this happen. Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes spoke to Irish rider Paul Griffin, who has had a chance to experience the Asia Tour first-hand this year while competing as part of the Giant Asia team.
For most riders, the pro dream begins or ends in your late teens or early twenties. A rider's peak generally happens around 28 or 29; if you haven't made the break before then, the chances are pretty remote that you'll do so after that. Irish rider Paul Griffin is 32 years old yet, earlier this year, he got the chance to finally go full-time.
Racing in Asia is not the same as competing on the ultra-competitive European circuit but, as Griffin states, the standard is pretty respectable all the same. "I think there is a misconception out there that the standard over here isn't very high," he told Cyclingnews this month. "I think it is as high as the equivalent level in Europe, though... any of the 2.2 races we do in Asia are as hard as those over there."
Following a spell with the French ACBB club in 1997, Griffin competed for many years as part of the Irish national team, working full-time but still managing to put in some decent rides. These included a stage win in the FBD Milk Rás [now the 2.1 ranked FBD Insurance Rás] in Ireland, plus mountains classification wins in races such as the Tour de Hokkaido and the Tour of Hellas in Greece. Then, out of the blue came the chance to join fellow Irishman David McCann on the Giant Asia team for 2005; for the recently-married Griffin, it was a big move, a leap in the dark, but an adventure all the same.
Click here for the full interview