LETTERKENNY cyclist Philip Deignan is back home in Donegal this week for a well earned rest after an excellent year at WorldTour level with Team Sky.
Local cyclists and friends have organised a ‘meet and greet’ session tomorrow morning, Saturday, in An Grianan Theatre at 11am followed by a cycle led by Deignan.
Organised by Sean McFadden and Jason McHugh, coaches of the newly formed Donegal Cycling Development Squad, and cycling enthusiast, explorer and Philip’s neighbour Jason Black it promises to be a great morning.
Philip became the first Irishman to ride in Team Sky colours in this his 10th year as a pro having made a successful return to the WorldTour, after spending two years at ProContinental level.
It has been a largely successful season for the Donegal man, despite missing his first race of the year due to a broken collarbone.
Philip played a crucial role in the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España, coming close to victory with an aggressive performance at the Italian Grand Tour.
His career highlight to date was finishing ninth overall on the 2009 edition of the Vuelta a Espana and also winning a stage.
“It’s been a great year for a truly great Donegal man. He’s riding alongside Tour De France winners Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins in the best team in the world. He’s their wing man and he’s more than holding his own,” Sean McFadden said.
Saturday’s event has been organised to celebrate what has been a great year for Philip. He’s just signed a new two-year contract with Sky and he’ll be looking to leave his mark on next year’s Tour de France – if selected.
“Philip’s heart will always be in Donegal and he was overwhelmed by the support he received at the start of the Giro in Belfast earlier this year. He’s a modest young man and, hopefully, the people of Letterkenny and Donegal will come out in huge numbers to welcome home a real hero on Saturday,” McFadden added.
Supporters, both young and old, are encouraged to arrive at An Grianan no later than 10.30am tomorrow morning.
“We’ll do a question and answer session with him and he’ll sign autographs and meet supporters,” McFadden said.
There will be a fee – €10 adults, €5 under 16s – for the Q&A session with all monies raised going towards the Donegal Cycling Development Squad.