Foreword Dany: “After all the misery caused by the pandemic, the lockdowns, the lack of racing, and the travel restrictions we can forget 2020 as soon as possible and look into a better 2021. Well for a few lads from the north Christmas came early, Mitchell Mc Laughlin and Matthew Devins signing for some Continental U23 Development squads as neo pro’s, and a First Division French amateur team in the case of Kevin Mc Cambridge. This is a big step for the youngsters and a well-deserved one for each of them. I got in touch with each of them and asked if they could tell the story in their own words of what it means to them. Each of them has been involved with the Belgian Project at some point, Kevin and Matthew have been selected as graduates in 2019 and spend part of the summer racing in Belgium with success (even a win, podium, and plenty of top 10’s) and looked after by one of my guest family’s in Moorslede (Rik and Sabien Masil-Himpe) a well-known family in Irish racing for their kindness towards Irish young talent. Mitchell was a member of my composite development team in the Ras Donegal in the past and has been racing in Belgium while he was staying with the other guest mother from Moorslede, Martine Verfaillie, also a well-known photographer and adopted mum in Belgium. They have been in the shop window so to speak and being noticed. It is defiantly good news for the guys, and fantastic news for me …they have done me proud for sure” …here their stories

Matthew Devins (TRINITY Racing & U23 British Continental Team)

Matthew receiving the 2019 Graduate medal of the project

“So I suppose the 2020 season was a bit of a year to forget! The opening weekend in March ended with a win and first unplaced A2 prize; however, this was the last race that I would do until July! It was definitely a big disappointment to not have the opportunity to return to Belgium and to Spain for a couple of UCI races that I had planned. I loved the month that I spent last year with Rik and Sabien in Belgium and it would have been great to have won a race or two this year. Especially after Kevin and Cathir were giving out to me for not winning a single kermesse the year before! But what can you do!
I had a decent day at the National track champs after missing out on gold in the pursuit by .nothing seconds and being caught with 100m to go in the scratch race after a long solo move. A 5th in the Connacht champs was one of the bigger highlights on the road also. The road nationals were my last outing of the season where I finished a very disappointing second in the TT and a 4th in the RR. It was definitely a fun year and if I had known what I know now then I would have had a lot more in the tank to have been far more competitive in some of the later races! But I have learned a huge amount about myself and training over the lockdown.

Matthew winning in Lurgan in 2019 as first year junior (Photo BP media team)

“Next year I will be racing for TRINITY Racing which is a U23 British Continental Team ran by Andrew McQuaid. I am absolutely ecstatic about next year and I can’t wait to have the opportunity to race abroad for the year! I’ve discussed what my goals will be for 2021 with Andrew but my primary emphasis will be purely on development for next year. I know that it will be a big step up but I am really looking forward to it. We have got a very strong squad this year which will be led by Ben Healy who will have a great chance to win a lot of top races with the talent he has! There’s also a number of other lads who are also seriously talented and I’d like to have a couple of chances myself to nail a result or too hopefully! I just can’t wait to get going!
Hopefully, I will get to pull on a couple of Irish jerseys as well next year! My last Irish cap was in the Junior Tour and it hit me this summer that I may not get another Irish cap again in my life which was a scary thought, to be honest as I was hoping to pull on a few more Irish jerseys this year. It would be great to get some Classics, stage races, and I would love to get a shot at doing the Euros, and L’Avenir as well which usually field larger teams. Worlds would be amazing to ride next year but that’s quite an ambitious goal at this point ? Regardless I hope that the world sorts itself out a bit more next year so life can return to normality a small bit! I’m really looking forward to 2021 though
” Matthew told us

Kevin Mc Cambridge (AVC Aix En Provence & Division 1 France)

Kevin as TT champion in the Irish Juniors Nationals 2019 in Derry

“I’m looking forward to joining AVC Aix En Provence for 2021 I think it will be a great learning curve for me to learn to ride the top amateur races! I will be making my move on the 4th of January so I will get to spend Christmas and New Year with my family which is great. The change to the racing I think will be different, stronger riders and bigger races. Belgium was great practice for this kind of thing as you race with some of the best. I have my eye on some big races next year like Ronde de I’isard and Tour of Lavanir with the Irish team. The language barrier will be my problem as I will have the learn the language but it hopefully won’t be much of a problem. I also look forward to living in France and learning the language and culture as I love learning something different” Kevin told us

Mitchell Mc Laughlin (Team SwiftCarbon UK & Pro Cycling Squad)

Mitchell in one of the kermesses in Belgium a few years ago (guest of adopted mum Martine, who took the photo)
Mitchell well known for his funny faces, but even more for his “never give up” attidute as he proved in the Ras last year

Mitchell told us: “So this year was a tough year for everyone, I got the most out of it by getting some results, not the best results…. not the result I was looking for but sure what can you do it’s done now I was having some bad luck at the National Crit Championships, crashing out off the winning move and then the chance for a medal, I was gutted. So my next goal was to win the national Times Trial’s Where I finished third and got myself a medal! In the road race, I broke my front wheel but still finish the race. I then sent my CV to teams and now my team for next year is SwiftCarbon pro cycling