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Dean Harvey spent the road race season in the trenches, riding major races against big pro teams, often in a support role within Trinity Racing (Photo: Navratilova-Reichova-Brychta, Czech Tour)

Now at the end of his first year with Trinity Racing, one of the best development teams in European cycling, Dean Harvey’s return for his efforts has been based more on experiences rather than results.

The 20-year-old, who still has two more years on the road in the U23 ranks, won gold in the elite race at the National Cyclocross Championships at the start of 2023, placed 2nd in the U23 TT at the National Road Championships and competed for Ireland, again, at both the Europeans and the Worlds.

His two eye-catching results this year came against the watch in the U23 races at the Europeans and World Championships; 13th and 19th respectively. Aside from that there was a 5th on a stage at Tour of Japan (2.1) and 10th at Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix.

He lost the overall victory, and final stage win, at Kerry Group Rás Mumhan after a controversial finale and abandoned both Tour de l’Avenir – falling ill after the opening stage in the breakaway – and Tour of Istanbul (2.2), where he crashed on his head at the start of stage 1. There were some victories at home, but that’s not really the point for Harvey any more.

And, in that context, he believes 2023 was perhaps more of a strategically important season on the road rather than a conventionally successful.

Harvey winning the final stage at Kerry Group Rás Mumhan, and he thought the overall, but he joy was short-lived, unfortunately (Photo: Brendan Slattery)

“I’d say this year I got what I needed, but maybe not what I wanted, because obviously you want results,” he said. “But there’s a lot of learning you have to do to get results. So, I think in terms of preparing myself for next year, it was perfect.”

And that’s the stage Harvey’s career has been at to this point; lots of success at home as a junior and first-year U23, riding for Kinning Cycles, then VC Glendale and Spellman Dublin Port. And having stepped up to Andrew McQuaid’s Trinity Racing in 2023, it was all about the hard yards; getting the training and racing load into the body and banking the experience required to go and get international results.

And with some of Trinity’s top riders – the ones Harvey would have ridden for at times this year – moving on and with Harvey having far more experience, and served an invaluable apprenticeship his year, he will move up the food chain in the team.

“I’ve got my first few races that I’m doing,” he said for the 2024 campaign, though keeping his cards to his chest for now. “I think (next) year will be a lot better because, already, I’m being asked what races do I want to do? And what will suit me? I should be racing, like, every week.”

Harvey riding the U23 race at the World Road Championships in Glasgow in a season when he also represented Ireland at the Europeans (Photo: Sean Rowe)

He should also step up within the Irish U23 set-up. While Archie Ryan has moved on – now aged out of the category – Darren Rafferty still has two more years to go, even though he is about to becoming a World Tour rider at EF Education-EasyPost with Ryan. And with Rafferty and Harvey in the U23 set-up, along with Italian-based climber Ronan O’Connor, Jamie Meehan and a few others, it should be a very effective team.

For now, Harvey is looking towards the first Trinity Racing camp towards the 2024 season; two weeks in Calpe. He also wants to ride some cyclocross races in Belgium over the Christmas period, saying he believed a consistent period of high level ‘cross racing should really bring on his condition. He will then look towards the National Cyclocross Championships.

In his rear view mirror is the UCI Cyclocross World Cup, where he rode to 11th place in the U23 race. He was in contention for 8th until the final lap when a slow puncture, well, let some of the air out of his challenge. But he was happy with that result, and delighted with his day out in top level competition on home turf.

“Obviously with the separate U23 (World Cup) race this year, that sort of made it a bit more of a goal,” he said of Dublin. “And then I was a bit more motivated for it, to try and get a result. That helped keep me focused and maybe there was a bit more pressure. But I think, for me, pressure is good.”

And what of the home crowd; did it encourage him or was there a sense of very high expectations to live up to?

“I think when you’re having a good race (the home crowd) is great,” he said. “When things aren’t going your way, then it can sort of put you off a bit. It definitely helped a lot (in Dublin). And just hearing your name… it’s cool.”

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