Wherever you can find a good coffee there is a fair chance you will find Adam Phelan. He is a sucker for one. The Drapac Professional Cycling team member grabs every opportunity possible to enjoy a ‘good brew’. “I have an obsession with coffee”, he says. That’s not unusual among the cycling fraternity and neither are crashes. On December five 2011 Phelan was involved in a training accident that could have had serious ramifications on not only his career in the sport, but more importantly, his life. Phelan was on a training camp in the Victorian high country with his teammates, when he hit a rock on the road.
He was unconscious for several minutes and suffered bleeding on the brain. His helmet took the brunt of the impact and that’s something he is grateful for today. “I do think i have greater appreciation of helmets and their importance” he said. His outlook on racing hasn’t changed since the accident but he does have more of an understanding of the perils of the sport. “It definitely made me take a step back” explains Phelan. “It doesn’t take much for it all to go wrong in cycling and that we, as riders, are in danger all the time”, he added.
The crash hasn’t dampened Phelan’s enthusiasm and dedication for cycling and his dream to become a pro on the European circuit. “I’ve wanted to become a professional bike rider for as long as I can remember”, he said. “It is hard to know where I am at in that quest, but I keep working towards it each year and I feel I am growing as rider each race I do. I am really keen to prove myself in races in Europe this year and try and make the Aussie team for the U23 World Champs” added Phelan.
Phelan (20) isn’t short on experience despite his age. He has competed successfully on the domestic scene here in Australia and also raced in both Europe and Asia finishing seventh overall in the 2011 Tour of Hainan in China. In March this year he was second overall in his first attempt at Malaysia’s Tour de Langkawi before a knee injury ended his race on stage five.
Phelan believes there is room for growth in our national road series. “The NRS racing scene is really strong” he explains. “Each year I think the field improves and deepens. It has also been really great to see more and more Australian domestic teams appearing into the scene and supporting riders, because they are the ones who will help develop riders and improve the racing.”
“ I think as the level of the riders and teams grow and improve the races themselves need to grow and evolve with that level. Looking towards some of the better run lower level UCI races, such as the Sun Tour, as a base structure for some the domestic races could be a good start” Phelan added.
Adam Phelan isn’t alone in growing up in the Australian Capital Territory and trying his hand at competitive cycling. Matt Hayman and Michael Rogers are two others who have gone onto bigger and better things in the sport, both inspiring Phelan. “I remember watching him (Rogers) late at night in Tour de France when I was around 15, and being in awe at the fact that he was once just a kid from Canberra like me”, Phelan said. “It then made me think, so why can’t I do the same at some point?”
Phelan is enjoying his time at Drapac Professional Cycling and appreciates the efforts they put in to encourage the likes of him in the sport. “This will be my second year with the team and I’ve really enjoyed it”, he explains. “The team is one of the most professionally run operations, and everyone in the team is really close and supportive of each other. Having the likes of Rhys Pollock, and former Aussie champ Darren Lapthorne in the team is really beneficial for a young rider like me. They are always willing to help me out, and give some really good guidance and I’ve learnt a lot from them”.
Phelan studies communications part-time via an Open University program which enables him to keep up to date with his studies no matter where in the world he may be with his bike. An interest in web design keeps him occupied away from racing and a good book or movie make up a chunk of his spare time.
Life after cycling may involve a communications role in a professional team, or perhaps a cycling writer, penning words on a young up-and-comer from the back-blocks of suburban Canberra like himself.
Whatever it is, you can bet there will be a good brew nearby.