Movin' on up
One of Ireland's most exciting talents will line out in 2005 in the colours of the Ag2R Prevoyance outfit, taking his place alongside compatriot Mark Scanlon in the ranks of the French Continental Pro team. Shane Stokes speaks to Philip Deignan, another young Irish lad movin' on up into the big time.
Philip Deignan secured a two-year deal with Ag2R Prevoyance after a fine run of performances this season. He won two stages plus the overall in the Ronde d'Isard World Cup stage race and also took several other high placings in the espoir series, including eighth in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He could well have finished on the podium had he not been sent the wrong way while in a promising-looking break with fellow Irishman - and VC La Pomme team-mate - Nicolas Roche. Deignan took a stage of the Tour of Chablais and won the team time trial championship of France with the Marseilles-based La Pomme squad.
The Letterkenny rider impressed outside France too. He showed his climbing ability when he placed third on two stages of the Baby Giro, although he missed out on a possible podium placing in the overall standings due to a bad crash on stage two. Earlier in the season, he took two sixth places en route to sixteen place overall in the Tour de Langkawi; strong performances against the professionals continued later in the year when he finished eighteenth overall in the Tour of Britain. Hopes were high that he could land a high placing in the world under 23 road race championships in Verona in October but, fatigued after a long season, Deignan had to make do with 17th place on the day.
Scaling back on training during October enabled the 21 year old to recharge his batteries. He is now building towards what he hopes will be fine first season in the pro ranks. GP d'Ouverture La Marseillaise on February 1st is likely to be his first race, followed by the Etoile de Bessèges and, hopefully, the Tour of the Mediterranean. Starts in the Dauphine Libéré and the Route du Sud are targets later in the season, plus a ride in the Tour de l'Avenir.
Cyclingnews caught up with the prodigious Irishman, checking how things are going as he counts down to the start of his professional career. Deignan was in good spirits and sounded excited about the challenges ahead.
Cyclingnews: So what have you been up to since the world championships?
Philip Deignan: Well, I came back to Ireland for four weeks. I just relaxed and took it easy in that time. Then, I went back over to Marseilles at the start of November and did a training camp up till a few days ago. It was in Villeneuve Sur Lot with the team. It was pretty good. The spins ranged from 90 kilometres to 180 kilometres a day and it was good meeting all the riders for the first time. It was a very relaxed camp, it was good.