Four riders signed for An Post Sean Kelly team, McConvey and McLaughlin back on board
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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Four riders signed for An Post Sean Kelly team, McConvey and McLaughlin back on board

by Shane Stokes at 3:54 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Team continuing to shape 2012 lineup

Ronan McLaughlinThe An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Sean Kelly team has announced four signings for the 2012 season, with Irish riders Ronan McLaughlin and Connor McConvey remaining on board and the Belgians Roy Jans and Stijn Ennekens coming on board.

The team is based in Belgium and features mainly Irish sponsors, with former world number one Kelly lending his name and guidance to the squad. While it is a continental squad, his connections have helped ensure that it gains invites for many big events, including the Tours of Qatar, Oman and Belgium. McConvey walked away from cycling last year, citing mental burnout. “I have decided to take a break because I’m just not having fun on my bike anymore,” he stated then. “We’ve tried for three or four months to bring things back to basics - purely fun - but nothing has changed. I know that you can’t enjoy life 100% of the time, but when your passion for the sport dwindles you can’t effectively go through the 80% of the really hard times to justify the 20% of the good times you experience. The sport is too hard if you don’t love it all.”

Fortunately his feeling for cycling came back this year and, after winning a three day race in Ireland in August, he returned to Belgium and began racing with the team again. Things went well and the 23 year old is ready to aim higher next year.

“With McConvey, once we took him back in August it was always about 2012,” said general manager Kurt Bogaerts. “When he returned I just wanted to ease him back into competitive cycling and really make sure he was enjoying himself. He did well and it was a big bonus to see him win the Suir Valley 3 Day. He’s got his confidence back and he’s still very young, so he’s another I expect to push on next year.”

McLaughlin is 24 years of age and has been with the team since 2008. He was tenth on a stage of the Mi-Août en Bretagne, but seldom rode for himself during the season. The team credits him as having played a big part in some of its successes.

“Ronan has continually progressed since he joined the team four years ago,” said Bogaerts. “Last year [2011] was his best season yet; he put in some great teamwork for Gediminas Bagdonas’ two stage race wins – the An Post Rás and the Tour de L’Oise - as well as being part of the team which helped Mark McNally win the Mi-Aout en Bretagne in France. He’s a really good team rider and I’m looking forward to him progressing again next season.”

VeloNation understands that discussions are ongoing with several of the riders on the 2011 team, including the veteran Nico Eeckhout. The former Belgian champion is yet to decide what he will do but two compatriots are coming on board, namely Jans and Ennekens.

Bogaerts explained their background. “Roy is only 21 and has won a lot of junior races in Belgium,” he said. “He wanted to finish his studies, which he has done, and he’s now committed to racing full time.

“Stijn is a bit of a different signing as he’s making a comeback of sorts. He’s won a lot of races on the Belgium circuit, although he was never riding in a high quality team. He’ll have that now next season, so hopefully he will be another good addition.”

Bogaerts is expected to complete the team lineup over the next few weeks. “It’s exciting times for us and because of last season’s results there are a lot of riders out there that want to be part of it.”

The squad will remain at Continental level for at least one more season. It has said that it would consider moving up to Pro Continental level in future if the funding is in place, but also realises that being a Continental team with strong connections enables it to ride both high quality races such as the Tour of Belgium and also the smaller kermesses which help the younger riders develop well.


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