Friday, October 22, 2021
HomeInterviewsConor Hennebry - Making a Name for Himself in the Kermis School

Conor Hennebry – Making a Name for Himself in the Kermis School

-

Conor Hennebry
Conor Hennebry.

VeloVeritas senior mentors and pundits Dave and Vik are always quick to let us know if there’s a name to be chasing over in the Flatlands – step forward Irishman Conor Hennebry who’s making a name for himself in the Kermis School.

In time honoured VV fashion we tracked the man down and ‘had a word.’

Thank you for speaking to us, Conor; the basics first – how old are you, where are you from and I believe you came in to cycling quite late?

“I am 23 years old this year, since February.

“I live just outside Carrick-on-Suir in County Waterford, Ireland.

“Yeah, I took up cycling when I was about 18 or so and decided to start taking it serious the last number of years, in the aim of improving as a rider.”

You were doing a Construction Management and Engineering degree – is that all behind you now?

“Yeah I finished a Construction Management and Engineering degree from the University of Limerick last May.”

Conor Hennebry
Conor spent the best part of the season racing and winning in the heartland. Photo© Jo Groenevinger

How long are you in Belgium for – and how did you organise the trip?

“I came to Belgium the 28th of June and I am due to head back to Ireland on the 1st of September but I went home for a few days in the middle of the month.

“I got in contact with the manager of An Post Chainreaction cycling team to see if he would be able to put me up in a house while I do some racing in Belgium.”

Tell us about your team, Aquablue – what sort of support do you get?

“Aquablue is an amateur team in Ireland with Tim Barry as the manager.

“Aquablue is one of the best amateur teams in the country. They provide a lot of support for the riders including clothing, nutrition, helmets and race support with team cars.

“The team also provides young riders with the opportunity to learn from the more senior riders who have been racing for numerous years and have won almost every race on the Irish calendar.”

I’ve seen images of you in An Post colours?

“I just got some old kit from friends of mine when they were with An Post – I use it as training kit is all.”

Where’s ‘home’ in Belgium and what’s the cooking/cleaning/washing script?

“I live just outside a small town called Buggenhout which is about 20km from Brussels.

“Cooking, cleaning and all the rest is done by the people living in the house which is all shared out – so it isn’t too bad.”

Conor Hennebry
Four kermis wins in one visit is very impressive. Photo©Nancy Goossens

How’s the Belgian weather been for you?

“The weather hasn’t been too bad, you get some really warm days but there are days when it rains constantly but all in all not too bad.”

How’s the Vlaams coming along?

“I don’t speak any Flemish unfortunately but it would be handy so I think I might try start learning a few words.”

You’ve been racking up some nice palmares, can you list them for us?

“I have won three races in Ireland this year:

  • AmberGreen Tour of Ulster
  • Deenside Cup
  • John Beggs Memorial

“And then four kermises during my time in Belgium:

  • Sinaai
  • Kerksken
  • Merchtem
  • Onze Lieve Vrouw Waver”

You must come across ‘combines’ – how do you fare in those situations?

“I don’t think I have come across combines.” [Lucky man, he’d know if he had ! ed.]

Are ‘Kermis Kings’ Guy Smet and Mario Willems still to the fore?

“I don’t really know, I don’t know many of the Belgian racers. I just go racing and give it my all.”

You rode the Kreiz Breizh with the Ireland team; that’s a hard stage race down there in Brittany – how was it?

“Yeah Kreiz Breizh was tough; I didn’t really have the best preparation done for it.

“Just a different style of racing but I enjoyed it.

“A lot more hills compared to here in Belgium.”

Conor Hennebry
Conor can handle the flats and the hills. Photo©Rita Thienpondt

How’s the race scene in Ireland – and how does it compare to Flanders?

“The racing scene in Ireland is good during the early part of the year but it begins to dry up around July and August.

“The races differ a fair bit, usually in Ireland the races are hillier and run on larger circuits; not 18 laps of a six kilometre lap like here in the Belgian kermises.

“Irish races tend to aggressive for the whole race, races in Belgium are really aggressive for the first hour or so but when a winning break goes up the road a large part of the field just call it a day.”

How’s the rest of 2016 looking and what’s the plan for 2017?

“2016 is starting to come to an end but I will keep going until October in an attempt to shorten the winter miles.

“I am not too sure about 2017, ideally I would like to professional contract.

“Nothing is finalised at the moment but I am hoping to get a Continental team for 2017.”

We wish him well – remember where you heard the name first…

 

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

Related Articles

Ryan Mullen – Silver Medallist in the World U23 Time Trial Championship

Ryan Mullen’s (Ireland & AN Post) progress through the sport has been little short of meteoric. Mullen won a superb silver medal in the Worlds U23 TT in last year's Championships in Ponferrada with only a heartbreaking 0.48 seconds behind Aussie winner, Campbell Flakemore – who’s now with BMC. We caught up with the Irish flyer early in the New Year as he returned from stocking up at the supermarket in Mallorca where he’s training with the Irish track squad.

Hamish Strachan – “I’m missing that last bit of nastiness that you need to be competitive”

‘Sorry, I fell asleep, I need my afternoon nap after one of Flavio’s training sessions – a 90 minute chain gang then six laps of a circuit with a steep ‘kicker’ in it.’ That was Hamish Strachan explaining to us why he’d missed our call – good to hear that the young man is back in the groove after a difficult start to his year.

Matt Green – From England to the USA, via Belgium

Matt Green’s is a typical story, a young Englishman who gets into cycling, trudges the well trodden path to the Flatlands of Flanders, gets a contract on low budget teams – Cyclingnews, Cinelli, Marco Polo – and then... The progression stalls; but rather than bang his head against the combines in Flanders for another year, he’s decided that there’s a New World of cycling for him – across the pond in the USA. He’s secured a private sponsor to pay his wages and all he needs now is a team – here’s his tale:

Silvan Dillier – Stepping up to the World Tour with BMC

We last spoke to up and coming 23 year-old Swiss star, Silvan Dillier back in the spring after his win in the Tour of Normandie; since then he’s been a busy man. There was stage win in the hotly contested Triptyque Ardennaise in Belgium, a win in Cham-Hagendorn in Switzerland and stage in the Fleche Ardennaise in Belgium. Then came a ride as a stagiaire with the BMC World Tour team – and an excellent win in Stage Two of the Tour of Alberta.

Paddy Bevin – Chasing a career to the Top Level

One of the names missing from Gila (one of the big US early season races) is that of Bissell’s, 21 year-old Paddy Bevin. The New Zealander preferring to keep closer to sea level as he starts his build up for the Tour of California.

Eddie Dunbar – u23 Tour of Flanders 2017 Winner; “I decided to go long”

Despite his flyweight 56 kilos Eddie Dunbar has already established himself as one of the worlds' best U23 riders with top ten finishes in the European and World U23 Time Trial Championships - and riding for the Irish team rather than his usual US Axeon Hagens Berman team he took Ronde victory in that bike riders’ Mecca, historic Oudenaarde.

At Random

Tom Moses – a Great Start to the Season

Rapha-Condor-JLT’s 21 year-old ‘Yorkshire man in black’ Tom Moses has been making the headlines these last few weeks. In the opening race of the British Cycling Elite Road Race Series (what was wrong with ‘Star Trophy?’) recently, the Tour of the Reservoir, Moses tried to steal the second stage victory and overall GC with a late attack but was ridden down by Scotland’s Evan Oliphant (Raleigh). This year he’s moved across to John Herety’s team with the ambition of catching the eye of a Pro Continental squad for 2015. We spoke to him between his Normandie and the Reservoir results...

Ben Swift – On the Milan-Sanremo Podium!

Kristoff was no surprise to us – especially with Paolini as his wingman; Cancellara – enough said. But the man on the third step of the podium was a big – and it must be said, pleasant – surprise, Sky’s Ben Swift, back from the wilderness. Last season was compromised by injury picked up in 2012 and subsequent surgery but there were green shoots of recovery to be seen at the start of this season – two podiums and a top ten in Nokere.

Jason MacIntyre Wins the Scottish Hill Climb Championship 2007

Jason MacIntyre Wins the Scottish Hill Climb Championship 2007 - It took Jason MacIntyre (Edge RT) just 3 minutes and 37 seconds to win his fifth Scottish individual time trial championship of the 2007 season; at Bonnyton Moor on a dreich Sunday afternoon, the hill climb was duly added to the 10, 25, TTT and circuit TT, in the bleak country above Eaglesham.

Tour de Trossachs 2010 – Alistair Robinson Takes It

Alistair Robinson (Team Leslie Bike Shop) was the winner of a damp edition of the Tour de Trossachs 2010 on Sunday with a rapid 1:06:01, putting him two minutes clear of roadman turned clock basher for the day Robin Wilkins (Stirling BC); with evergreen Jim Cusick (Glasgow Couriers) rounding off the podium a further minute back.

Scottish 12 Hour Time Trial Championship 2008

Steve Beech has ridden two Milk Races and ten 12 hour races, so when he tells you that this year's Scottish '12' was the hardest one he's ever ridden, he knows what he's talking about. He's also held the Scottish record, with 275.258 miles - set in the Glasgow 12 in 1991, until Joe Wilson updated it; that distance is however, still the Scottish vets record.

Grenoble Six Day 2010, Night Four – Good Morale at the Track

"Dirk, you're working on the bikes early today," says me at the Grenoble Six Day 2010. "Yes, I must finish early so I can watch the darts on BBC TV in my camper van!" I didn't expect that answer," says me. "Yes, I must finish early so I can watch the darts on BBC TV in my camper van!" I didn't expect that answer. He was telling me that the new Look 496 track frame costs in excess of €6,000 and there's a waiting list; they only build to order. They are beautiful though and as Dirk says; 'it's the best bike for the sprint and it's a genuine European product.' It's cool and grey in Grenoble today - and very quiet...