Belfast Telegraph

Martyn Irvine wants more gold

By Nigel Ringland

Martyn Irvine showed once again why he's now thought of as one of the world's top track cyclists by taking gold in the points race final at the Track Cycling World Cup in Manchester.

It was another tremendously gutsy performance from the Newtownards rider, who clinched Ireland's first gold medal at a UCI World Cup meeting.

Irvine's weekend hadn't started promisingly as he managed only seventh in the individual pursuit on Saturday afternoon but decided, with only a 15-minute break, to take part in the heats of the points race.

"I hadn't trained enough for the pursuit and it was an average time but I decided to hedge my bets and entered the points race," he said.

"Luckily, I was in the second of the two heats but honestly I suffered a lot and was lucky to qualify. I was the last man to make it to the final.

"After that it was all about recovery and getting ready for the final."

In the points race final, Irvine looked like he was struggling early on and almost got cast adrift by the rest of the field but with just over 30 laps to go he made his move, and took the remainder of the points by holding on to win the final sprint. In doing so he saw off the challenge of Denmark's Lasse Norman Hansen, with the Olympic omnium champion taking the silver medal. Elia Viviani of Italy claimed the bronze medal.

"I rode smart for the first half of the race. I didn't want to race too much, but then I started to use my head. I looked around and other guys were grimacing more than me.

"I rolled off the front and got in the groove. A Spanish guy came across to me and we committed. It was all or nothing."

Irvine added: "It's about awareness generally. I was lucky not to lose a lap and I had to do a bit of riding to get the group back and after that it was all about staying near the front.

"I knew what I had to do and that the last lap was crucial. It was actually the perfect race, even though it didn't look like it."

Irvine had previously won two silvers at the Glasgow World Cup last November, but that would only be a prelude to what has been a crazy 2013 that has seen him win the world title in the scratch race and silver in the pursuit at the World Championships in Minsk in February.

However, a month later a crash in Taiwan saw him break his hip and he has spent the past six months battling back to peak fitness with the help of the Sports Institute of Northern Ireland and, just two weeks ago, he took a bronze in the omnium at the European Track Championships.

"I've said it before, it will make a good book some day.

"You couldn't script what has happened to me this year and obviously there's part of it I wouldn't want to repeat, but it's been incredible.

"I'm not the kind of man who gets a lot from being the first man to do this or do that.

"I get my buzz from winning a hard race and the respect I get for doing that," added Irvine after his latest triumph.

Irvine's weekend finished with an 18th place in the scratch race yesterday and he will now travel to Mexico for the second World Cup Classic next month.

He will then defend his scratch race title at the World Track Championships in Cali, Colombia in February.

Double Olympic champion Laura Trott was Great Britain's solitary gold medallist on the final day as the hosts suffered the unfamiliar feeling of finishing second on the medal table.

Britain's track cyclists are used to dominating in the velodrome, but the last of three days of racing at their home track did not begin as planned, as Olympic champion Jason Kenny suffered an embarrassing early exit in the men's sprint, failing to negotiate qualifying.

Trott, Kenny's girlfriend, triumphed in the six-discipline omnium after winning the final two events, taking her second gold after victory in the team pursuit on day one.

World champion Becky James was second in the women's Keirin, claiming Britain's second medal of the day as the hosts finished with four gold medals and eight in all.

Trott was sixth overnight at the midway point in the omnium before a second-day rally.

She placed second in the individual pursuit before a gutsy winning ride in the scratch race propelled her to top spot in the rankings with one event remaining.

The bunch races are not normally Trott's forte, yet she seized her opportunity by being the second of two riders to lap the field and out-sprinted Poland's Malgorzata Wojtyra to win. It was the first time she had gained a lap in a scratch race.

"Normally in the omnium you're sitting back and you're just racing the people in the top six," the 21-year-old from Cheshunt said.

"I was never going to win the omnium by doing that. My coach (Chris Newton) said to me 'just go for it'.

"When you're a kid and you race nationals, you race like that. You just think 'sod it' and go.

"If I didn't get the lap I didn't get it, at least I'd tried. But I did get it and it paid off, because then I only had to sprint against one person."

Trott also won the sixth discipline, the 500 metres time-trial, to win with a total of 19 points, five clear of nearest challenger Gillian Carleton of Canada, who had to settle for second.

Belfast Telegraph


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