Thomas Fallon

Discipline: Track
Gender: Male
Date of Birth:

Thomas FallonThomas Fallon was working with the Irish junior track team when they won a silver and bronze at the World Championships last month in Monticharli, Italy. The Galway native also competed himself internationally as a junior, and is currently a final year undergraduate student studying sports science and exercise physiology in Athlone I.T. Thomas took the time out to speak to Cycling Ireland about his life within and outside the sport.

Despite his young age, Thomas Fallon has already been involved in elite level cycling in two distinct capacities. Fallon was a talented junior racer himself, having been a member of the pro team Vacansoleil’s junior squad as well as having a spell with the Belgian team Illi-Bikes CT. Following this, Fallon managed to get involved in cycling another way, which began with him securing an internship with Cycling Ireland. This led to him working as assistant team manager for the Irish junior track team.

“It was kind of something I fell into, and because I came up through all the programs it was good to kind of give something back” remarked Fallon when speaking about how he ended up in the management set-up for Cycling Ireland.

Fallon initially got the internship at Cycling Ireland after a chance conversation “I was talking to Brian Nugent (Cycling Ireland Technical Director) at Christmas and I just mentioned how I was off for the summer and I had to complete a few weeks of placement for college, and it was there Brian said would I be interested in doing a bit with them, and it kind of went from there”.

Before any of this however, Fallon first experienced cycling through his father “my dad was doing it leisurely, just pretty much doing leisure cycles and basic sportifs, and I started racing at around fifteen, then it kind of flourished from there”. He began to race for his nearest local club which was Wolftrap Cycling Club in Birr, but it took Fallon a while to realise how good he was “I didn’t even realise I could compete at a high level until I was around sixteen I suppose… up until then I was kind of doing it on the side and wasn’t taking it too seriously, just enjoying it”.

Fallon had a good junior career but he always still placed an emphasis on his studies over cycling, although he feels that they also complemented one another “for me school is at the top always, and then cycling came along after it. They come hand in hand really. If you achieve in school you’ll achieve on the bike, but for me, it was very important to get a leaving cert because you always need something to fall back on no matter what”.

Despite Fallon's awareness that school was always more important than cycling, he still wanted to at least try to break onto the pro scene, with him taking time out of his studies to join the aforementioned pro junior team Vacansoleil. Fallon joined this team in an effort to get exposure “I was just going out on the continent and getting exposed to a bigger standard of junior racing… I went for that for team because it provided me with the best opportunity to put my name out there and to kind of get the contacts and for people to see what you’re capable of doing”

Fallon soon decided that it was probably best to call time on his own cycling career and change direction. “I could have kept cycling and kept taking years out, but for me it was just stand back and look at the reality and be like am I where I want to be? Am I going to be able to go and make an actual living out of this? And the answer to that was quite evidently no. I went back to college and refocused. The goal was to get my degree and get a job”

However, through the opportunity to become part of the team with the juniors Fallon managed to stay involved in the sport, and he believes being just a short time removed from competing himself helped in his work with the juniors “it was more of a friendlier relationship (with the riders), I wasn’t just there as a manager if something is going wrong. I don’t think it (my age) was a problem, I think it was probably better that I was younger and the guys could kind of relate to me more”. 

Despite this advantage Fallon was also acutely aware that he still had to maintain a distance from the riders at times “I wasn’t there to be anyone’s enemy but I wasn’t there to be anyone’s best friend either, I was there to try and help the guys be as good as they can be, and in doing so there were days there where I could have been the worse person in world because I said something to some guy because he done something wrong, but I mean at the end of the day them days were few and far between".

Fallon goes on to explain how one of his key jobs within the team was to essentially be a “liason” with him often being the first port of call when any of the riders had a problem. He first joined the support team for the juniors on a training camp to Majorca. Over there he was responsible for organising food for the cyclists, and also had to draw up rotas for them relating to cleaning etc. as well as reiterate basic guidelines relating to nutrition and hydration. Fallon also used his past experience to help the young riders mentally cope; “they were experiencing big training loads, they are obviously going to be tired and their juniors so it will be the first time they are feeling it, so psychologically they would be cracking a small bit, so I just have to explain that this is all part of the process”.

Fallon's main aim whilst working was simply just to add something to the setup that helped the riders improve “at the end of the day they’re the future, you know, they’re the guys riding the bike, so if one thing that I said to them sticks, well sure isn’t it better than nothing”

His work continued into the European and World Junior track championships which both took place during the summer, where along with working on rider plans and participating in meetings he was as he describes himself “just making sure everything ran smoothly and there were no real problems, cause sure if there’s problems it’s going to affect one of the lads performance because there’s going to be stress… when everything is relaxed, racing is the easy bit really.”

Of course at the World’s in Italy, the Irish team enjoyed huge success with Xeno Young winning silver in the Individual Pursuit and JB Murphy taking bronze in the Points race within the space of fifteen minutes of each other. Fallon was also doubling up as mechanic for the team at the championships and remembers that day well; “That day it was literally one guy came off the track and I was setting up the other guy’s bike before he went out in case something went wrong. When Xeno (Young) finished his ride it was a good few minutes (before the next race), but you have to keep focused on what was next and give the guy that was racing the priority”.

Naturally, Fallon and the whole team were delighted with results “the goal was the IP, that was the target for Xeno and then for JB (Murphy), that was just a class result, and he was very close to winning too”

For the immediate future cycling is taking a back seat for Fallon, as he is refocusing all his efforts back into his studies with him hoping to pursue a masters in physiotherapy after he finishes his final year in Athlone I.T. However he still aims to stay involved in cycling and hopefully continue to play a part in creating future Irish success.

Written by Graham Gillespie

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