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Mountcharles cyclist Jamie Meehan returns from France for a short break

You may see a familiar figure flying onto the Mountcharles bypass on a bicycle in the coming days, but don’t worry. Jamie Meehan is back home for a few days for the next phase of his cycling career in France.

The cyclist who won the Irish U-23 title last summer has built his career in Frances with the CC Etupes team, joining them last January. The season is going well, although there was a small problem last weekend at their final race, the Ronde L’lsard, when he was involved in a fall during a downhill chase, but fortunately he escaped without serious injury.

With a number of his team involved in the crash and a number of others falling ill, the decision was made to give the team members a break and that is why Meehan is back in Mountcharles until Thursday of next week.

“I think everyone needed a break, so the team canceled the race this weekend. The flights were cheap enough so it made sense to go home for a few days.”

The crash occurred on day 3 of the event. “We were riding back to the front after the main climb on Day 3. We were 10-15 seconds off the front, so we took a few risks to try to catch up on the descent. At one of the corners, one of the boys got scared and hit the brakes. Unfortunately I was the next man behind him and couldn’t really stop in time,” said Meehan, who was happy enough to escape with just a little haste, “no big deal.”

Overall, Meehan is happy with the way his first season went: “It’s going well. We had the training camp when I first left and then we had a few flatter races where I was just helping the team.

“I had a good run in a race called Annemasse, one of the well-known races, a bit hillier. I came sixth there. I was in the leading group and it came to a sprint finish between the six of us. I tried to go early but ended up sixth.”

Afterwards, Meehan returned to Ireland to race in Rás Mumhan 24 and performed very well, finishing 2nd on Stage 3 and two 4th places and coming 5th overall, which he said was “decent enough”.

“Then it was back to France and I came second in one of the French Cup races, which are about the biggest races we do apart from the UCI races. I felt very good about that, because it was a very good result for me.”

That was at the end of May and represents his greatest achievement yet in his short career.

As for last week’s Ronde L’lsard: “I never really felt great, but I was able to hang in there and finish 13th overall, which considering I never felt great and the fall, can be happy about it. ”

In terms of the full season, Meehan is looking forward to another home trip for the Irish Nationals, which will take place at Newcastlewest in Limerick at the end of June, where he will defend his U-23 title.

“We are almost halfway through the season. Looking at our calendar right now, July seems quite empty. I know I’ll be going home for the Nationals at the end of June. At the end of July I will go to France again, for the Tour of Alsace. I’m not so sure what I’m going to do next. It will depend on what the Irish teams do and the selection for that.”

Jamie Meehan in action in France

There is another big race in France in August, the Tour de l’Avenir, the youth version of the Tour de France, but Meehan is not sure if Cycling Ireland will enter with a team.

“That depends on whether the Irish team has the budget to send us again this year. Now let’s keep our fingers crossed that we can compete.”

Ireland’s other big race, the Rás, is scheduled soon, but Meehan has decided to miss it.

“It was a difficult decision whether to come home or not. But realistically it’s not a race that suits me. It’s just too flat. We have a race in France at the same time that is a bit more hilly, so for me it makes sense to stay in France and do the hilly race.

‘I’m happy enough. Clearly the second in the French Cup event was a nice confidence boost. I don’t think I’ve done particularly well yet, but at the same time I’m happy enough with what I’ve done so far.

“The teams are quite good at speaking English, which makes it a lot easier, but I’m trying to learn that little bit of French myself to show that I’m doing my best.”

The schedule is busy and there isn’t much free time, but Meehan seems very happy at the moment.

“It feels like time goes by fast enough. Up and on your bike in the morning, come back, make lunch and it won’t be long before dinner is here. And some days I do a double day where I do a ride in the morning and gym in the evening. Time passes quickly enough.”

He is also looking forward to some training when he is home, especially around the famous hills of South Donegal.

“It will be nice to be back on the home roads for a few days. The weather is getting better, so I timed it well.”