By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent
Whilst Ireland shivers, the cycling season will start for Ciarán Power and David O’Loughlin in the Jacobs Creek Tour Down Under next Tuesday, January 18 in bright sunshine. Over the next five days, they will be representing the Navigators Insurance outfit form New Jersey in the USA. Whereas Power has been a member of the outfit, O'Loughlin no doubt will sample life as the new kid on the block in their colours. At the moment, both Ciarán and David are in Australia preparing along with Navigators Insurance team-mates Chris Baldwin, Siro Camponogara, Hilton Clarke, Kirk O’Bee, Nathan O'Neill and Phil Zajicek for the 2.HC ranked event in Australia.
What a difference a year makes for the Connacht participant. This time last year, David O'Loughlin, the current Irish Road Champion, had severed his ties with the professional ranks. He was back home and was going to base his activities for the year from Cong, Co. Mayo. Last season, Mark Scanlon was the flag bearer for AG2R and Connacht at the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under. He was also road champion, but this time around Mark will not be there.
Surprisingly, David O’Loughlin found early season form in 2004 and was a regular on the national team, which was a bonus. His profile also found new frontiers with a number of prolific wins in UCI recognised races in Belgium, England and Ireland where he won the Murphy & Gunn Shay Elliott Memorial in April.
From then on, it was a roller coaster number of months, which culminated at the World Championships in Verona, Italy where he had a high placing as he did in Belgium at Zolder in 2002. The hankering to get back into the pro ranks was rewarded when he was taken on board the New Jersey based team Navigators.
David will wear the distinctive jersey of national champion in all events where he will race this coming year, but for now the tunic is sure to arouse the passions of the Irish based in Adelaide.
His manager, Ed Beamon is very happy with the signing and said, "David was at a training camp in the States in December. What I saw of him was good and I have no doubts he'll make a fine contribution to the team as Ciarán has done over the last number of years. David’s win in Carraroe, Co. Galway over the Christmas period has set him up nicely for the months ahead," Ed added.