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Teenage cycling sensation Seth on balancing professional racing with studies

"I try to bring as much with me as possible when I'm travelling but once you get over there I kind of just focus on the cycling, so It's hard to get it all done."

Despite being only 16-years-old, Seth Dunwoody from Hamiltonsbawn sure has a lot on his plate.

The County Armagh teenager not only has the typical worries of completing his A-Levels, but spends his weekends competing in international UCI road cycling races, the pinnacle body of professional cycling.

By no means an easy feat!

Seth currently races for the Cannibal B Victorious U19 Development Team, in which he is the only Irish rider. It’s one of the best performing teams in Europe, comprising of many different nationalities.

Three weekends ago, Seth took part in the Penn Ar Bed – Pays d’Iroise stage race in France, where he won two of the three stages and achieved the general classification.

When he’s not out propelling himself to cycling stardom, Seth is a Lower Sixth student at the Royal School, Armagh, currently completing his A-Levels. This is by no means an easy juggling act, as Seth travels to Europe most weekends to compete.

The team has a house just outside Brussels, where Seth travels to the races from.

“I have exams in a few weeks,” he laughed.

When asked if it’s all proving too much, he replied: “I’ll just have to do them. I’ve been trying to revise and train at the same time. I try to bring as much with me as possible when I’m travelling but once you get over there I kind of just focus on the cycling, so It’s hard to get it all done. 

“It can be difficult to manage but most of my friends are really supportive.”

Seth says he is still trying to find the secret of juggling such busy commitments, admitting that he will be competing in Europe the week before his first exam on May 19!

You wouldn’t think to look at Seth that he would be so calm and collected about it all, but he concedes that he is maybe “a bit too relaxed”.

He added: “I haven’t felt stressed yet anyhow…Hopefully I can make a career out of it, but I’ll get a few A-Levels just to be sure!”

Continued Seth: “It’s all kicked off this year. For GCSEs I wasn’t doing anywhere near as much travelling, I was at home revising all the time. This year, with going to an international team abroad, it’s really kicked off.”

For Seth, cycling runs in the blood, with dad Glenn explaining that whilst he was involved in racing, it wasn’t “at this sort of level”.

“I started cycling when I was about 27 just to keep fit. Then I sort of stumbled into racing,” he explained. “I got up to A2 level at racing in Ireland. Anywhere I was racing he [Seth] would have been coming along from when he was no size.”

Speaking on his rise to the international stage in cycling, Seth said: “I’ve been cycling for most of my life and competitively started racing when I was around 12. It started within Ireland then I started going over to Europe this past few years.

“I did well over here and won a few elite races with adults last summer. A few people must have seen that over in Europe.”

Last year, Seth was one of six youngsters from across Ireland to be chosen to compete in the European Youth Olympics in Slovakia as part of the Ireland cycling team.

At the men’s Time Trial, Seth finished fifth, only a few seconds off a medal. In the Road Race, he finished 27th out of 85 competitors.

Glenn explained that after the TT, “my phone never stopped”.

He added: “The Cannibal team was the best selection because we needed a team that would still allow him the freedom to go to school. They are Bahrain Victorious’ junior team as well so there’s a direct link to the World Tour.”

With the races (and exams) piling up in the coming weeks, Seth has big ambitions for his cycling career.

“My ambition would be the World Championships in Glasgow at the end of August,” Seth said. “Ireland will be able to send two riders.

“I have a race in Belgium in the coming weeks then the following weekend I have the Peace Race in the Czech Republic, which is a pretty big stage race.”

Glenn added: “He just needs to carry on punching in the good results and hopefully he gets selected to go to that. To go as a first year junior is a big enough challenge, but with Seth only being a first year, he will still get another chance next year.

“Hopefully he will get to the Tour de France in three years’ time,” Glenn laughed.

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