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I couldn't feel like that again: Mark Downey reveals past hurt pushed him on to World Championship bronze

 

All smiles: Mark Downey celebrates his bronze medal in the men’s points race at the World Track Championships in Poland
All smiles: Mark Downey celebrates his bronze medal in the men’s points race at the World Track Championships in Poland

By Steve O'Neill

Mark Downey claimed a bronze medal for Ireland with a superb ride in the men's points race at the World Track Championships in Poland yesterday.

With 20 points on offer for lapping the field, as well as intermediate sprint points for the first four riders over the line on every 10th lap, 22-year-old Downey had his work cut out to stay within distance of a medal throughout the 40km race.

Despite lapping the field for the first time with 100 of the 160 laps to go, Downey was out of contention in a hectic and ever-changing race that saw numerous groups gain early laps on the peloton.

A gutsy ride, however, saw the Dromore man lap the field a second time with 40 laps to go, cleverly holding off contact with the rear of the peloton to win an intermediate sprint and gain another five points in the process and bring himself up to fifth.

A calculated final surge with 14 laps to go saw Downey become one of only four riders to gain three laps on the field on the night when he pulled clear in a small group to bring his tally up to 67 points, having also finished third in another sprint.

With Jan-Willem Van Schip of Holland and Sebastian Mora of Spain going into the final lap secure in the gold and silver medal positions, Downey was tied on points with home rider Wojciech Pszczolarski and needed to beat him to the line to secure a medal.

Despite just gaining contact with the back of the peloton with nine laps to go, Downey pulled out all the stops to outsprint the Polish rider and snatch the first Irish medal at the World Track Championships since Martyn Irvine's won silver in the scratch race in 2014.

"That result is just for all the staff at Cycling Ireland and all the people behind me, my family, all the support staff, everyone that's just got me up every morning, just kept me on the straight and narrow," said a delighted Downey. "I've had so many ups and downs over the last year and a half of my career.

"I was always there or thereabouts in races, but I never really picked up that win. I was beaten by inches in the summer at the Tour de l'Avenir, had a crash on the track, finished fourth in the Commonwealth Games, fourth in the national Championships. I've had that feeling of being fourth so many times, I just got that urge with eight laps to go, and said, 'I can't feel like this again'.

• Laura Kenny withdrew from the omnium at the World Championships, with Katie Archibald riding in her place.

Kenny, a two-time Olympic champion in the event, said after Britain took silver behind Australia in Thursday's team pursuit final that she had not been able to produce her best form for unknown reasons this week.

"I am absolutely gutted to announce that I won't be riding in the omnium at the World Championships today," Kenny wrote on Instagram.

"I haven't been feeling right all week for reasons we're not sure of, but we do know my performances in the team pursuit over the last two days have been well off where I have been in training over the last two weeks.

"I would have given the omnium my best shot and I really wanted to do it but with the depth of the squad it was decided that it was better that I didn't compete and give someone else the opportunity.

"I agree with the decision and I think Katie will do a brilliant job. I wish her, and all my team-mates, the best of luck."

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