Fiona Mangan Happy To Gain Invaluable Experience As She Becomes First Irish Woman To Finish Grand Tour
Fiona Mangan during La Vuelta Femenina (Image: @Rommanski)
Fiona Mangan is happy to have gained ‘invaluable experience’ as she became the first Irish woman to finish one of Cycling’s Grand Tours last week.
The 26-year-old completed La Vuelta Femenina on Sunday, May 7th, to write her name in the history books and is happy to continue her development within the pro peloton.
Joining Soltec for the 2023 season, Mangan is continuing to rise through the ranks and is happy with her performance in her first Grand Tour.
“I actually didn’t realise that until one day in. I got a message saying that there only one other (Irish) woman that started a Grand Tour and that she hadn’t finished it.”
“I was asked what my goals were for the week and really it was to gain as much experience as I could and take each day as a completely separate race and focus on improving every day.”
Beginning the race with the objective to finish, Mangan was able to gain experience rubbing shoulders with some of the top riders in the world.
And that experience began to show as she grew in confidence in the final days, finishing 99th overall in the general classification.
“Our objective was to finish (the race) and it kind of worked out exactly like that. Every day I got more and more confident; it is a bit daunting at the start when you’re on the start line with Marianne Vos, Annemiek Van Vleuten and Demi Vollering.”
“I hadn’t done a race to that level, and I didn’t know where I’d stand. The two flat stages at the start I thought would suit me better and I struggled with them the most because they were my first time in that kind of peloton. As the week went on, I got more and more comfortable and started to learn a lot more.”
“Even when you’re following riders like Marianne Vos, you see how she reads the peloton while you’re following her wheel, you start to see where she’s going. I genuinely thought it was such an invaluable experience – a crash course in pro cycling. It was really great.”
After her team for 2022, IBCT, ceased operations at the end of the 2022 season, Mangan was on the lookout for a team before being signed by Spanish team Soltec.
A Spanish team with a roster of riders consisting of younger riders as well as more seasoned veterans, Mangan has been afforded the opportunity to race a number of Spanish races before her first Grand Tour.
“It was kind of a struggle last year trying to find a team because I hadn’t had any results last year to get myself easily transferred to another continental team. Soltec picked me up very much at the end of the season and a lot of us don’t have a lot of experience.”
“We were given this opportunity in these races which is amazing, and you have to make the most of what you can with that. It was a huge confidence boost.”
Mangan will race in Itzulia this weekend as she looks to continue her good form, but has one eye on the Road National Championships next month.
Finishing in third place in the 2022 Women’s road race, Mangan admits it would be an honour to be crowned National Champion in Dungannon on June 24th.
“I think it’s always important to go home and no matter how much racing you’ve done abroad, it’s always good to do the nationals. In the sport, it’s such an honour to wear your national jersey, but also in the peloton – it nearly puts you up a step.”
“I hear it’s quite a hillier race. We’ve such a good group of girls coming through that actually inspire and motivate eachother than anything else.”