Feature Q&A: Morgan Bown

Get insights into racing a season in France – Ahead of his fourth year racing in France, we quiz Scotland’s Morgan Bowen who went off to Europe as a first year Under 23 and is still there and supported by the Dave Rayner Fund

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Feature Q&A: Morgan Bown
Ahead of his fourth year racing in France, we quiz Scotland’s Morgan Bowen who went off to Europe as a first year Under 23 – lets not pfaff about and get straight down to business!  

Q: How long have you raced in France Morgan?
Morgan: Next year will be my fourth year in France. I first came out to Europe fresh from the Junior ranks as a 1st year Under 23. I got a ride for a team in the north (Club Cyclist Villeneuve Saint Germain Soissons Aisne DN1) and after a year with them, I had to find a new team as they folded. So I moved down to Lyon to ride for DN3 team Velo Club De Corbas in 2020 and stayed with them in 2021 as they stepped up to Division National 2 level.

Q: What was the biggest challenge in going from Scotland to racing and living in France?
Morgan: I’d definitely say the whole moving away from home. I was 18 when I first came out to France. Also, I would say the lingo was very challenging for me in my first year in France as I had not studied French at high school but as time progressed, so did my French.

Q: Why did you decide to make the big move to go abroad to race?
Morgan: I personally thought that for me to develop as a rider, France/ Europe was the place I had to go. I believed I would gain more experience from it and find more races suited to my strengths and find more opportunities and pathways to the pro scene.

Q: Do you stay in France all season long or come home from time to time?
Morgan: I normally stay in France from January to roughly around October so 10 months. When the season is done, I head home to finally see my family and friends and mope about the British weather.

Q: Stuart Balfour says racing and living in France is like a 10 month training camp, eating, sleeping, racing, training and living cycling. Has that been your experience Morgan?
Morgan: Yes, definitely although I try and make the most out of the rest days and down time to explore and experience as much as possible.

Q: Has the Brexit issue affected you racing and living abroad?
Morgan: Initially for the first month or two, it really stressed me out. I, like many other riders only had 90 days before we would have to return home due to Brexit. I was super lucky that my team really went out of their way to help me with a lot of paper work etc. Because I had previously stayed in France for two years, I found myself applicable for French Residency until 2026, so this was a great way for me to overcome the Visas/Brexit palaver.

Photo: Coraline Monier

Q: You are changing teams and moving to EC Saint-Etiénne Loire (Facebook page here) – how did that come about?
Morgan: Yes, I’m really excited about this opportunity. I was approached by Saint Etienne after finishing 11th and winning the sprints classification at the Elite national Grand Prix De Marcel Bergereau. The team said they had been watching my progression throughout the season and liked my aggressive/attacking style and offered me a contract.

Q: Racing abroad, is that living the dream even at club level there?
Morgan: Honestly, I’d say yes. I don’t have anything to complain about; it’s simple, eat, sleep, train, repeat; whilst enjoying the weather and soaking up the French culture. What more can you ask for?

Q: What has been the best ride you have done in 2021?
Morgan: I would say my two most satisfying results would be winning my first ever Jersey at Stage 1 of the DN2 Coupe De France Boucles De Printemps where I swept up the sprint points and took the green jersey. Unfortunately, I lost it on the last stage by one point. I would also say Elite National Circuit De Monts Livradois (a very hilly parcour) where I finished 14th. This really boosted my belief in my climbing ability, making the front group of 20 out of 150 riders on cat 1 climb.

Q: What event you have done abroad that has been the most enjoyable to race?
Morgan: For me, that would definitely be racing Under 23 Paris tours in 2019. A race I aim to get revenge on this upcoming season.

Q: Did you get to ride for yourself in races or were you assigned a role to support other riders?
Morgan: Yes, I had a lot of opportunities to ride for myself this season and also found myself in a bit of a road Captain role in certain races. Although at the same time, when not suited to me or when I was less on form, I moved into a team role getting bottles, riding on the front, marking moves etc.

Q: Are the races there uncontrolled or like the pro races in many respects?
Morgan: I’d say most are pretty uncontrolled and ridden very aggressively a lot of the time from the gun. But I would definitely say there are a few races where the bigger teams take control and police it, especially in the ones more renowned for finishing in bunch sprints.

Q: How hard was it to learn the language – I assume team talk is all in French?
Morgan: Yes, most of the meetings; team talks and so on, are in French, so learning the language was very important. For me, I just progressed and picked things up from weekend to weekend, always trying to make an effort of speaking as much as possible even if I wasn’t saying the exact correct things or with the best fluent accent. I think the French really appreciate this. It helped me fit in a bit more with the team rather than feeling like an outsider.

Q: How have you managed to support your racing and living in abroad – the Dave Rayner Fund is part of that I understand?
Morgan: The first year abroad in 2019 I was unsupported as I didn’t have many results to back myself. I had only started my cycling career the year before as a second year junior with Spokes Racing Team.

Since 2020 I have been very lucky to be supported by The Dave Rayner Foundation and I’m extremely grateful for this as I genuinely wouldn’t have been able to chase my dreams and pursue a cycling career for the past two years in France without their financial/general support.

Q: Whats the most fun thing about living and racing in France. The parcours look quite interesting with the French villages etc …
Morgan: It’s amazing we often race in and out of small beautiful scenic towns and villages, with all different types of terrains from village pave to switch back climbs or ragged back roads.

Q: Does living there give you the chance to see pro races or are you too busy racing yourself?
Morgan: Yes, not all the time but on occasion I have been able to catch races like the Tour de France when passing by close to where I stay.

Q: Your season seemed to start really early certainly compared to the British season. Do you now come home for the break and winter work?
Morgan: Yes my season normally starts early February and can last to near the end of October. I have been back since the middle of October where I spent a few weeks off the bike catching up with family and friends. I am now back working part time until January at Tesco’s just a couple shifts a week stacking shelf’s and making some pennies to help me out for the upcoming season.

Q: Finally, what are the goals for the 2022 season with the new team…
Morgan: The same as always, have fun progress, try make as many results as possible. I’m really looking forward to seeing which bigger UCI races I will have the opportunity to participate in. One I have my eye on would be Tour de Savoie Mont-Blanc.

My thanks to Morgan for those insights of spending a season abroad in France and living the life of a racing cyclist – good luck in 2022!


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