Mark Downey this week has announced that he is to ride for the Dynamo Cover pro cycling team in 2016. A UCI Continental team with the backing of Irish Cycling legend Stephen Roche as team mentor. With a racing centre in Brittany the team has a real international feel to it and has also announced the signing of 3 French and British and New Zealand riders. A further Australian is also expected. With their race calendar looking to be largely based in the UK and France they are also hoping to attract invitations to some of the larger Asian races thanks to Team Manager, Breton Yann Dejan, managing a team there previously.
It may have been a quieter than normal start to the 2015 season for Banbridge CC’s Mark Downey with his focus switched to ensuring he put the required effort into his school exams, but he still managed to claim some impressive results – most notably winning the best Under 23 Jersey in the International Tour of the North at Easter and a fantastic bronze medal at the National U23 Time Trial Championships. Initially disappointed with the bronze, the scale of the performance was soon realised by the Dromore man when he looked at the calibre of riders that he had beaten on the day also of those 2 ahead of him – Ryan Mullan and Eddie Dunbar, both full time professional athletes who are attracting the attention of the world’s biggest teams. Indeed Mullan has since signed with World Tour team Cannondale Garmin while Dunbar has also signed with top US team Axeon. Neither of these riders had the concern of school exams to contend with of course.
The second half of Downey’s season has seen much of his racing on the velodrome where he has been rubbing shoulders with the likes of British stars Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish. His recent visit to the European Championships, his first Elite Championships, would be a steep learning exercise but he still managed to break the Irish Team Pursuit record alongside team mates Felix English, Fintan Ryan and ex World Champion Martyn Irvine. He also competed individually in the Points race and for those who were able to watch the event on television it was a remarkably aggressive race for Downey, picking up points in the sprints and attacking off the front of the bunch attracting the attention of Europe’s cycling media.
With these performances it is little wonder that Mark will follow in the footsteps of his brother Sean and father Seamus. Seamus competed at the Olympics and Sean famously won a Commonwelath Games medal on the track and enjoyed a professional career with the An Post Chain Reaction Cycles team. Sean has since retired from International duty having recently announced his departure from the professional scene but no doubt both will be at hand to offer advice to the latest Downey taking on the challenge of the dedicated professional cyclist.