McConvey puts partying in past to claim victory
Connor McConvey marked his return to Sean Kelly's An Post team with a stage win and overall victory at the Suir Valley three-day race in Clonmel yesterday.
Burned out after a few seasons of international mountain biking and a year on the continental road scene, McConvey gave up cycling this time last year and headed to France and Italy to train as a ski instructor instead.
"I was completely cracked -- physically and mentally," he said as he celebrated a truly satisfying victory.
"I needed to walk away from the sport. I had no desire to be here. I learned to be a ski instructor, drank a lot of beer, did a lot of partying and met a lot of girls. But that's not real life either and after a while I wanted to get back on the bike. Since then I've been training like a madman."
After seven months away from the sport, McConvey -- winner of the white jersey for best young rider at last year's Ras -- returned to racing on the domestic scene about three months ago, winning four races before this success.
Having finished third behind South African Herman Fouche on Stage 1, McConvey conserved energy on Stage 2 before taking over in yellow by virtue of a stage win in the evening hill climb.
"I was confident I could take time out of the South African guy, but I was also really nervous," he said.
"It was raining and it was so steep that it was really slippery and I was surprised to have 11 seconds lead over him at the end of it.
"This win is good for the confidence. I've been back on the bike only three months and things are starting to come around.
"I felt good. I felt strong. I attacked whenever I needed to and I also stayed calm when I needed to."
Yesterday's stage was won in a bunch sprint by Killorglin's Daniel Clifford, giving the Donegal-based SportActive team their second stage win in as many days.
"It was very hectic coming in the road," said Clifford of the rain-soaked stage which claimed plenty of victims in numerous crashes, including former race leader Fouche in a post-finish line spill.
McConvey took overall victory by 11 seconds from Fouche, with Patrick Clarke of Castlebar third at 40 seconds. Damien Shaw of Lakeside Wheelers took fourth.