Cycling fans enjoyed a thrilling weekend of racing at the Cycling Ireland Track National Championships in Sundrive velodrome where 8 National Champions were crowned, and 2 Irish Records fell.
Kelly Murphy, a Pursuit specialist, battled less than ideal conditions of day 1 of the championship to set a new outdoor Irish Record of 3:48.99 in the Women’s 3k Pursuit during qualification. In the gold medal ride she went event better lowering the record to 3:47.452.
Lara Gillespie claimed silver in her first senior National Championships while Mia Griffin had to go 8 seconds faster that her qualification time to get the better of Autum Collins who finished just outside the medals in fourth.
Michael O’Loughlin was very impressive in the men’s 4k Pursuit winning in a time of 4:47.914. O’Loughlin had taken time off the bike due to the Covid-19 pandemic but clearly found his form at just the right time. A relative newcomer to the track, Lindsay Watson quickly mastered the skills required to excel at track cycling and won silver in a time of 4:52.116. The battle for bronze went down to a photo finish as Cian Keogh pipped youngster Aaron Wade by the narrowest of margins, Keogh recording 4:53.371 to Wade’s 4:54.531.
The men’s and women’s sprint races were equally as enthralling with a combination of power and wit required to make the medal rides.
East Tyrone’s Harvey Barnes took the first round against Eoin Mullen in the men’s final before Mullen struck back in round 2. But Barnes had too much and took the final round to seal victory and pick up the Sprint National Title. In a very close battle for bronze, Callum O’Toole edged out James Glasgow.
In the Women’s Sprint Orla Walsh was the red-hot favourite having set multiple national records during her training for this event. While the conditions on the day were not favourable for setting fast times, there were to be no surprises and she won gold. Deirbhle Ivory beat off some stiff competition to reach the final and finish second while Lara Gillespie would outsprint Nikki Taggert by two rounds to one to claim the bronze medal.
Day 2 of the championships saw medals decided in the women’s 500m TT, men’s Kilo TT and men’s and women’s scratch races. Orla Walsh set the tone early as she powered around the track to set a new Irish Record of 36.22 in the Women’s 500m TT, taking over a second off the previous mark. With a world class time on the board Orla Walsh was unbeatable today.
Deirbhle Ivory finished in the silver medal position with an excellent time of 38.61 and Nikki Taggert 3rd in 38.71.
Strong man Eoin Mullen who hails from the Aran Islands got the win in the men’s Kilo TT powering around the track in a time of 1:07.05. Harvey Barnes, who out sprinted Mullen on day 1 had to settle for silver while Aaron Wade showed his turn of pace with a bronze medal.
Fans watching the live stream were treated to nail-biting finish in both the women’s and men’s scratch race which topped off a fantastic weekend of track racing. Junior World Bronze medallist Lara Gillespie added gold to her collection which included a silver and bronze from Saturday. Mia Griffin pushed Lara very close during the scratch race finishing a half wheel behind in 2nd place. Kelly Murphy was 3rd followed by Autum Collins in 4th.
The men’s race was packed with talent and the pace was full gas from the gun. Aaron Wade buoyed by his performances throughout the weekend took the initiative and went on an early breakaway along with Andre Grennell. The duo was brought back with just 10-laps remaining before further attacks would split the group up significantly.
Cian Keogh attached off the front with 7 laps remaining and was joined by 2019 world medallist, Mark Downey. Downey had to work hard in the sprint finish to get the victory and claim the Scratch race National Title. Keogh rounded out a successful weekend with a silver medal followed by Michael O’Loughlin in 3rd.