Former courier Greg Callaghan looks set to deliver as professional biker
HE'S Ireland's only professional mountain biker, but Greg Callaghan is well on the way to the summit of his sport.
The Rathfarnham man said it was a "dream come true" when he turned professional only five months ago.
The 23-year-old currently sits in second position in the Enduro World Series, a competition that brings together the very best mountain bike riders.
"My aim at the start of the year was an overall top 10 finish and one race finish in the top three," he said.
With eight events stretched across three continents in the battle to be crowned number one, Wicklow was the venue for the second leg of the series.
The Irish leg will live long in the memory as not only was it the first time a world series event has taken place here, but Callaghan crowned the weekend with victory - the first Irishman to do so.
Local knowledge proved beneficial at the first ever World Series stage in Ireland. Callaghan said the huge support he received was nothing short of "ridiculous".
"It made a big difference on the day, making that much noise, everyone wishing me luck," he said. "To see the tricolours and hear people cheering you on, it was just fantastic.
"It was 32 minutes of racing, so a lot can go wrong, but thankfully I was able to hold out and take the win."
Callaghan currently trails overall leader Justin Leov of New Zealand by only 100 points, and the incredible journey so far is taking the highly-ambitious rider by surprise.
Days of training twice-a-day, five times-a-week while maintaining a regular job as a courier are now fading into memory after he was offered a professional contract following stand-out performances in 2014.
"I finished 16th in the World Series last year, with a best finish of eighth," he said. "I knew at the halfway point of last season that things were about to change. A few offers came in. It really was a dream come true.
"Now I'm the first ever Irish rider in any mountain bike discipline to make it on to one of the big 'factory' teams.
"Recovery and preparation are the two biggest differences I've noticed."
Next month, Callaghan will head for the French Alps, the half-way point of the season, and preparation is fully underway to not only consolidate his position but to keep the pressure on the top of the standings.
"I'll be in the Alps for a few weeks beforehand for training," he said. "I'm going to do my utmost to pick up more points. With events in the USA and Canada soon after, it will be a big month for me."