5 Minutes with Ronan O Connor – National Junior Road Champion

By Colm Featherstone – Feb 2021


In this article we are going to continue our “5 minutes  with …….” series and delighted to start off with  none other  than Ronan O Connor the current Junior Men, National Road Champion 2020.


How does that introduction sound to you Ronan, have you got used to the National Champs mantle, also  tell us about the race from your perspective, I see you won by a minute, your time was 2:37:42.

It sounds strange hearing it alright and I still have not gotten used to it. It was a hard race from the start. I remember not getting much of a warmup, so I decided to attack at about 10k into the 104km. There were already a few riders ahead , when I caught them, we rode together for a while until a bigger bunch of riders came across to us. We had about 18 riders in our breakaway with still 2 riders ahead who attacked nearly from the gun. We worked really well together. On the second last lap we caught the leading riders on the last climb with the group reduced in size.

I put in one or two attacks on the last lap and then coming into the final 7km I made a big effort to get away. I was joined by Eoghan Cooke from Ounavarra CC. Coming onto the final climb I went solo and finished with a nice gap of a minute on the line.



( Photo by Bryan Keane -Inpho www.stickybottle.com)


Tell us a bit about yourself for the members who do not know you personally, are you still at school, doing the leaving cert, studying through Zoom, living around the area.

I live in Rathfarnham, so I am only about a 5-minute cycle from Dundrum and more importantly Joe Daly’s Cycles. I am in 5th year in secondary school at the moment and studying full time with online classes on Microsoft teams mostly. I don't mind it too much and have got used to it. It does mean more time to train during the day, which is great.

Let us take you back a few years and tell us  how long you are cycling, what are your first memories of cycling, are you participating in other sports or is the bike the one for you.

I started getting interested in cycling back in 2012, I remember watching the Tour de France during my summer holidays and I thought it was amazing and after that I was hooked on cycling. I used to play a lot of different sports such as soccer and athletics while cycling. I stopped about 3 years ago to concentrate on cycling.  It was 2015 when I joined Orwell Wheelers. I had just gotten my first road bike and was keen to start riding in a club and start racing. The coaching was great and got a lot of help from  Dave Mc Loughlin and Gen Sheridan every weekend in Corkagh Park.

I know that you represented Ireland at International level that must have been a great honour for you and the family. What was that experience like and where did you compete.

It was a great honour to represent Ireland. The race I competed in was the Radjugendtour Oststeiermark ( Youth Tour of Austria) in 2019 ; it was a 5-day stage race at the end of August across the Austrian mountains. It is the biggest u17 race in the world and it was a great experience to race alongside a lot of other national teams from across Europe. I finished 33rd out of 120 riders.

Now Ronan getting down to the basics what sort of bike do you have and are you good at maintaining it. 

My bike is the Scott Foil 20 2018 which I got in Joe Daly cycles in Dundrum. I am good at maintaining it but I am not the best on the mechanical side of things. Joe Daly’s have looked after me and my bike really well through the years and they make sure that the bike is race ready before I set off racing every week during the season.

I know that everyone is restricted at the moment but prior to Covid what sort of distances were you putting in when training, what is your favourite spin route  and most importantly who do you normally  go out with.

I was putting in around 300km per week. I train a lot in the hills and without the restrictions I would have done a lot of training in the Wicklow mountains. One of my favourite  routes is heading up by Stocking Lane, up the Featherbeds, up Sally gap , descend into Laragh, maybe stop in the cafe and then head over the Wicklow gap. Then drop down to the Blessington lakes and head up Sally gap from the other side and home by the Featherbeds back down to Stocking lane. That would be around 120km and over 2000m elevation. I normally would have gone out with the other junior riders in the club, we have a good group.

What are you like at climbing the big hills and is there any particular climb that sticks out in your memory.

I would consider myself to be a climber, I love training in the hills and do a lot of training on them. One of my favourite climbs is the Wicklow gap coming from Laragh which is just under 7km.

In regard to the professional peloton who do you follow and most admire, I know you will probably say Peter Sagan  understandably, but let us say other than him.

Wout Van Aert is one of my favourite riders. He can do it all, win in the classics, lead up the hills at the Tour de France and win cyclocross races. I also admire Nicholas Roche and it’s great to be part of the same club and also Sam Bennett for everything he is doing for Irish cycling.

So, on a  more personal note , what is on your favourites play list, not that I will recognise any of the artists, but it would be nice to know.

I do listen to music, but I am not great at knowing who or what song I am listening to. What's trending at the moment seems to be good enough for me.

You have been involved in the Orwell Wheelers underage set up for a few years now, what has impressed you about it.

Compared to other clubs across the country Orwell does a lot for their youth riders which impressed me a lot. When I joined in 2015, I started off in Corkagh Park, where the emphasis was mainly on developing skills. Led by Dave Mc Loughlin, Gen Sheridan, and Stephen Ryan we did group riding skills, catching bottles, riders trying to knock each other off in small circles etc , and we would also fit in a handicap race at the end. Gen was great and she took us on trips with Orwell such as to the track in Alkmaar, the Youth Tour of Scotland twice and racing across Ireland.  And Dave Mc  with Joe Daly’s has supported me through the years with advice and help with my bike. There is a great support group in Orwell.


(Picture above Andrew Ryan, Ronan Fanning, Lara Gillespie, Caoimhe May, Ronan O Connor)


Going  forward, what is in store for Ronan O Connor “National Champion” personally and from a cycling angle.

I hope to have a good year of racing this year and hopefully get a lot more international experience. I am planning on racing in France in Brittany and also hoping to do some races with the Irish team. I would like to ride at the Europeans and World Championships in August.

And the final question, tell us something about you that we do not know.

I would be very fond of the tea!!!


That is great  Ronan thank you and everyone at Orwell wishes you the best in the year ahead.