Banbridge lad Matthew Teggart is today (Tuesday) jetting off to go one huge step closer to his dream career.
The 19 year-old cyclist has secured a deal to race full-time for top French amateur team AC Bisantine in the 2015 season.
Coming from a family of Commonwealth and Olympic cyclists, his progression is perhaps not all that surprising but no less exciting for the local lad.
“I’m absolute delighted to get the chance to go over,” he said. “You can’t get much better than riding your bike for a living.
“I’ll be racing in the French Elite National Series, the top amateur series. The next step would be to go professional.”
Teggart is hoping that his move to the continent will be another step towards that ambition but doesn’t anticipate that it will happen overnight.
“I’m not really expected to do anything this season,” he said.
“It will be a learning curve for me but they’ve said that if I get any good results at 19, I should be able to get a professional contract.
“That’s the ultimate goal. I’m not expecting any wins this year but hopefully I can get a few top tens.”
Teggart is the latest rider to come to the fore from a local cycling dynasty.
With his family influences, he never really had any choice but to start peddling.
“My family have a massive cycling history,” he said.
“My dad Neil and my uncle David Gardiner both cycled at the Commonwealth Games and my granda Noel Teggart cycled at the 1972 Olympics in Germany.
“I started cycling when I was about 13 or 14 with Banbridge Cycling Club, where my dad was a member. I picked up a few good results at schoolboy level and I then joined the Nicholas Roache Performance Team. They’re a junior team run by a professional cyclist and I spent two years there.
“They have links in France so if we get good results, we can get the chance to go over. It’s a bit like a feeder club, in football terms.
“I went over to the club for two weeks last year and they’ve asked me back so it’s a great opportunity.”
Once Teggart lands in his new home in Besançon, a village on the Le Doubs river near the Switzerland border, he will continue his preparations for a gruelling season that begins at the start of March and doesn’t end until the end of September with races every week.
Should he perform well in those, he’s hoping it may propel him into the senior Ireland team. Aiming to be alongside him is his new clubmate Dillon Foley, another ex Nicholas Roche cyclist, who Matthew is also hoping will be able to act as his translator until he picks up the local lingo!
But, in his humble manner, Matthew admits he couldn’t have made it this far without his supporters back in Banbridge.
“I’d like to say a big thank-you to the Downshire Arms Hotel and Golf Society, who held a fund-raising night,” he said.
“I’d also like to thank my friends and family for all their generous support and Banbridge Cycling Club and the Nicholas Roche Performance Team for bringing me through to where I am now.”