Foreword Dany B: ” I know Matthew for many years now and followed his progress from a distance due to his races mostly happens abroad, but always make a point of having a chat with him when he races home. Matthew has grown up in a cycling family, his dad Neil being an ex-international rider and many selections for Team Ireland. His home club Banbridge CC laid the foundation for his career, a club that produces cycling stars for the last 50 years if no more. A few stints as a pro such as the An Post-Sean Kelly team a few years ago, Wiggins Pro team and last year with Evo-Pro, and now with first division VC Villefranche-Beaujolais, a division who produced many big stars in the French pro world, maybe amateur status but mixing with the pros at most races they compete in…as you see below this outfit is very pro in what they do…I am proud I can call him a friend and wish him lots of success in the future…he had his slice of bad luck and hope this is now well behind him…Go Matthew Go…”
Matthew told us yesterday >>> In 2021 I am based in France, just outside Lyon riding for Top Division National 1 Team Velo Club Villefranche Beaujolais. It’s a fantastic team with a superb calendar including many UCI races and all of the major elite races in France. I was very excited to hit the ground running this year and get the results early but after a slightly underwhelming start to the season due to a slight sickness after a very hard, wet and cold Paris – Troyes UCI 1.2 race… my main goals (coupe de France rd 1 & 2 big one day elite races) didn’t quite go as I’d hoped! So with a small break from racing with France going back into a month’s lockdown with rising Covid cases in April, I came home to refresh the head and reset the body. I raced at the PJ Logan after a big training block and finally felt good and strong again.
Heading back to France the form came to light with an immediate victory on my first weekend of racing at the GP de Belley, this was my first solo victory after attacking the breakaway in the last 15km so I was very pleased and motivated for the next races which were 2 UCI stage races.. Tour d’Eure et Lore and Rhône Alpes Isère Tour, in total it was 8 race days within 10days so a huge block of hard pro racing! A few crashes in Tour d’Eure et Loire stage 1 and stage 2 scuppered my hopes of a stage win but I managed a few top 20’s and finished well on GC (24th) which I was pleased with considering the crashes and also it was a flat, wet and crosswind frenzy every day which isn’t normally my suited conditions.
Into Rhone Alpes tour with only 2 days recovery means I was in great shape for the first few stages but unfortunately it all ended in a bunch sprint after very hard racing each day so I helped a teammate who won the green jersey and was top 5 on 3 stages. A great result for the team and I was feeling good but the fatigue creeping in on the last 2 days caught up with me and I tried hard for the breakaway which was unsuccessful unfortunately and so sat up and cruised in with the groupetto the last day and was happy to finish! Last week then after some good recovery I had another 1-day elite race. It went well and I got into the early breakaway, we got caught after 2hrs of hard racing and then I made the split and ended up going solo off the front again from there with 30km to go, I couldn’t hold off the organised peloton behind unfortunately but felt super strong and gave it a good go.. rolled in 17th in the end.
Now I’ve returned home again for a few weeks with it heading towards the European national championships weekend so no racing for me unfortunately as the Irish champs are off and all the others still going ahead. Another good training block at home and possibly a few local races on the cards the next few weeks before I head back to France in July for another big block of Elite stage races and another Coupe de France round.