Following a breakthrough showing in the Vuelta a España where he won a stage and finished ninth overall, Philip Deignan is hoping to ride his first Tour de France next season.
The 26-year-old Irishman has been given his provisional race programme for 2010 and is on the Cervélo Test Team’s long list for the top Grand Tour. His build-up is typical of those preparing for the July race and, providing all goes to plan, he could get the chance to help Carlos Sastre aim for his second win in the event.
“My race programme will begin with the Vuelta a Murcia in March. I’ll then do the Volta a Catalunya, the Vuelta a Pais Vasco and the Ardennes Classics [Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège],” he told Cyclingnews. “After a break, I’ll then do the Tour of California, the Dauphiné Libéré and I’m on the team’s long list for the Tour de France.”
After several seasons with the Ag2r La Mondiale squad, Deignan joined the team on a two-year deal last winter. He has long been regarded as a promising rider but his progress was stunted by illness and injury. However he got back on track in 2009, netting fifth on a mountain stage and seventh overall in the Vuelta a Castilla y León, eighth in the Giro del Mendrisiotto, tenth in the Vuelta a Burgos, eleventh in the Tour de Langkawi and twelfth in the Tour of Ireland. He was also fourth on the opening stage of the latter event.
His solid form earned him selection for the Vuelta a España and there he took his biggest pro win when he outsprinted Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) at the end of the mountainous 18th leg of the race. That was the first Grand Tour stage victory for an Irish rider since Stephen Roche’s 1992 Tour de France win at La Bourboule, while Deignan’s final finishing position of ninth overall in Madrid matched Roche’s placing in the 1993 Giro d’Italia.
The Spanish results led to a renegotiation of his contract and he recently committed for 2010 and 2011. “The team were obviously very happy with my season,” he said. “Carlos [Sastre] will still be the main rider for the general classification, of course, so if I go to the Tour my job will be to help him as much as I can in the mountains.”
He and the rest of the Cervélo squad met up at a recent team get-together in Switzerland, the trip helping take care of much of the planning prior to the 2010 season. “The camp went well,” he said. “We didn’t do training on the bikes as it was more about arranging things for next year. We had team meetings, medical tests, organised race programmes and got fitted out for clothing. We also had some meals with sponsors.”
The Cervélo Test Team will get together again for 12 days later this month. That training camp will be followed by one in the Algarve in January, following which Deignan will return to his base in Girona and keep working towards what should be an even better season in 2010.