Foreword Dany B: ” Tall in stature, but more important tall in nature, this young Donegal gentleman had already some great skills, such as a good sprint, climbing abilities and team worker, and now a great experience added. His kind nature and politeness will give him opportunities in the future, his efforts to do well very much appreciated by us all, and like the other graduates, a credit to their parents. Giving him this chance was a no brainer, thank you to be an ambassador for the project and Irish Cycling, proud of you Darragh!! (Photo above with his dad and big supporter Mickey) All photos in this review courtesy of his adopted mum for the summer Martine Verfaillie, with thanks!!

Darragh told us:After a somewhat frustrating junior tour of Ireland ,it was nice to step into something new in Belgium.I was in Belgium for just shy of five weeks and stayed with Martine Verfaillie. The ‘guest’ house had everything I needed, and Martine was great help throughout . Within the five weeks I raced team races, kermesses and even a UCI race that went up the Kemmelberg three times.

On my first race I got a top 20 which I was more than happy with as it was a total different ball game to racing in Ireland . The technicality and intensity was through the roof compared to Ireland, though this was somewhat expected it was still an eye opener. After a double weekend I raced midweek and had a bad crash at around 45 kmph. This was a major blow but was dealt with in due time . During the recovery time from the crash I done a bit of tourism, which involved a Tour of Flanders visit with Josh Calally, and Joseph Mullen and a Roubaix velodrome trip with Oisin Ferrity. The lads were great help and craic throughout the trip,and we had more than our fair share of pancakes.

After a few races I found my feet again and could get back contending races. Through this I had a 6th place and a few top 15s. Though no significant results the experience gained in bigger bunches, technical courses, and harder races is something I hope will stand by me in the near future.

Would like to give a big thanks to first of all Dany for making it all possible , Martine for the great hospitality, the 3 lads and their parents for the craic and trips, and Rik and Sabien for welcoming me whenever we met!! yours in sport, Darragh Doherty