Fox exits paid ranks for now


It has, on the whole, been a year Morgan Fox would probably rather forget. Fifteen months ago he became the first new Irish professional cyclist in a decade when he signed for the Tonissteiner team. The Athlone rider made a promising start to the season, performing well in tough races like the Tour of Asturias, but then was sidelined by a recurrence of glandular fever in June.

Forced to sit out the rest of the season, Fox made a good recovery but despite indications he would be retained by the Belgian team, he was recently dropped from the 2001 squad. "It was a big, big disappointment," says the 26-year-old. "The team had seemed supportive when I was sick and said they'd keep me on, but then at the last moment I found out they had no intention of doing that. That left it too late to get another contract."

To compound his disappointment, Fox then sent CVs to a number of other professional squads who stated that their rosters were full, but would have been interested had he approached them sooner.

"The best way to get Tonissteiner back is to spray them with champagne next year - basically, have a great season despite them," he says. "I am going to give it one more shot, probably ride with the Irish team and do my best to get as many UCI points as possible. I plan to target races like the FBD Milk Ras and the Sun Tour; I really feel that if I get enough points next year I can get back into the pro ranks."

For Fox and other riders who will compete in the green jersey of Ireland in 2001, a restructured season seems likely. The Irish Cycling Federation is considering a later-than-usual start for teams racing abroad. "It is unlikely that squads will be going to the Tours of Langkawi, Greece and Rhodes as in previous years," says ICF PRO Ciaran McKenna. "We feel guys were getting to the end-of-season races - in particular the world championships - a bit worn out, so the feeling is the first trip abroad will be in mid April. We are just trying something new to see if it will help get better results over the whole season."

Also on the cards is a change in the selection process and management of such teams, as the ICF intends to appoint four squad managers in the next few weeks. The workload previously handled by the national team director will be split between them. Advertisements for the honorary positions to oversee senior and junior/women road riders and cross-country and downhill mountain-bike racers will be made shortly, while the track racing area will be addressed later on.

Fixtures: Christmas Day - Navan RC novelty two-up time trial, 11.0 start from behind the Ramparts, going out the Kentstown Road; St Stephen's Day: Eagle CC two-up guess-your-time trial, Batterstown, 12.0 (all categories); Navan RC Tour of the Boyne Valley, 11.0 start at the Village Inn (route: Slane-Newgrange-King Williams-Glen-Collon-Slane).