Updated 22nd June 2019

Junior tour of ireland riders – who will make it to the Tour De France?

Junior Tour of Ireland competitor from 2002  Geraint Thomas was the winner of the 2018 Tour De France.

Many other Junior Tour of Ireland competitors have gone on to very fine and Lucrative. professional cycling careers.

These include Bradley Wiggins, Dan Martin, Nicolas Roche, Sam Bennett, Mark Cavendish Ryan Mullen just to to name a few.

The latest is double winner of the Junior Tour Eddie Dunbar who is now competing very well at the top level of the Professional cycling scene..

When this years Junior Tour of Ireland finishes will it be possible to say with any certainty which riders will go on to professional careers?

Academics, Career or Cycling

Will it be academics,  a career and part time cycling or will a future as a Professional cyclist be pursued?

Is it possible to tell who might make it through to a well paid career as a Professional Cyclist?

Usual discussion

Here’s how it usually sounds for promising Junior male cyclists, in Ireland anyway. He she could be the next Dan Martin, Nicolas Roche,Sam Bennett , Eddie Dunbar.

I’m not sure who the Irish female juniors aspire to emulate Maybe Lizzie Deignan, another good Irish link there.

We have seen it year in year out, promising Junior or youth cyclist’s…. Wow, looks like the next great professional Irish cyclist.

How will we know the real deal?

So are we any clearer as to  Junior tour of ireland riders – who will make it to the Tour De France?

Well, based on research on a large number of junior cyclist’s we won’t be!

This research was carried out by the late great Coach and Sports Scientist Aldo Sassi.  Sassi was director of the Mapei Cycling Centre in Italy.

The research

Sassi and others carried out research in the area of young cyclists and that research is published in Medicine& Science in Sports & Exercise () (2009)
Aerobic Fitness Variables Do Not Predict the Professional Career of Young Cyclists.
Paolo Menaspà, Aldo Sassi and Franco M Impellizzeri  Abstract

Fitness measurements

The study looked at the aerobic fitness measures of junior cyclist’s from club to international level.

The research was to determine if it is possible to identify future professional cyclists from the Junior category.

309 Junior Cyclists

Undergoing a pre season test

They tested 309 junior cyclists.

“The cyclists were classified according to their competitive level and specialty:

1) National team (NAT) and non-National team (non-NAT); 2) non-professionals (NP), professional flat-specialists (PFL) and professional climbers (PCL); 3) non-professionals (NP), Professional Continental (PC) and ProTour (PT)”..

And while the results showed differences in vo2 and aerobic measurements between different groups such as non-national riders and national squad riders.

None of the tests could predict which riders would become professional riders.


“Traditional physiological measures of aerobic fitness are useful to identify junior cyclists who can excel in their category. However, these variables cannot be used for talent identification, if ‘talent’ is interpreted as a young cyclist who will succeed in becoming a professional

What makes the difference?

So what is it that makes the difference in remaining a good amateur or becoming a professional rider?

It’s clearly not just the physical ability even though this is obviously very important as a starting point.

So is it physical and mental toughness, mental skills, social skills, dedication, discipline, specific types of intelligence?

Or perhaps its a unique combination of all these qualities and more?.

Maybe it’s not even measurable, maybe we just have to wait and see who comes through and do everything possible to help riders make the breakthrough. Dan Martin Video

2018 Tour De France winner rode 2002 Junior Tour of Ireland

Geraint Thomas who has just won the 2018 Tour De France rode the Junior Tour of Irelands in 2002 Junior Tour Results There doesn’t seem to be anything in particular during this tour that sets him out as a future Tour De France winner.

However as a junior and senior his results on track and road were excellent over many years. There was a ongoing improvement on road and track up to his latest win.

Just keep doing it

Its worth noting that the Tour De France win occurs 16 years on from this particular Junior tour of Ireland. So, the first thing to be successful in the big events is to stick at the sport until in your best years for a cyclist, 25 to 35 years of age.

Presumably then as part of the British Cycling system Thomas got first class support and coaching on an ongoing basis.

The Future for Irish Juniors?

When you look at past Junior Tour of Ireland results you may also ask the question, why didn’t more of the Irish junior cyclists move into the pro ranks?

Perhaps all riders should be educated from a young age about the key qualities that professional riders have. Also about  the realities of the lifestyle of a professional cyclist and the steps required to become a professional cyclist.

This just might make the difference with some riders. They have to enjoy the sport if they are to continue cycling into their best cycling years.

Paddy Doran high Performance Cycling Coach. See Testimonials here  Contact us here

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