The final day of racing at the UEC Junior and U23 Track European Championships took place on Sunday at the Sangalhos Velodrome in Anadia, Portugal and it marked Ireland’s most successful European Championships to-date.
On the final day of racing, the Men’s Junior Madison pairing of Xeno Young and Luke Smith finished eighth. In the Women’s U23 Keirin Autumn Collins was 13th, and a crash in the Men’s U23 Madison ended their hopes of adding a fourth medal to what has been a week of fantastic results for the young Irish track team.
This year the Madison was added to the Olympic Programme for 2020, and it is an event in which the Irish have been performing well, under the tutelage of Cycling Ireland Track Coach and former Madison World Champion, David Muntaner. While Young and Smith raced well to finish 8th, an unfortunate crash saw the U23 pairing forced out of the race. Luckily their injuries were not serious.
This event is one in which Irish riders have excelled over the years, with this year being arguably the best outing yet, with six top five placings, including three medals.
Speaking after the event Cycling Ireland High Performance Director, Brian Nugent, was upbeat about the success of the team: “Overall this week has been our best European Champs, not only in terms of medals, but in out and out performances. We had six top 5s and the entire team just gelled together and took it on.”
The team arrived in Portugal having spent time training at the Cycling Ireland High Performance base in Mallorca. Nugent described the camp, saying: “It led on really from the successful training camp in Mallorca over the last number of weeks, where the team worked really well together. We had a lot of riders and staff over from home, and a lot of learning took place. It was a great environment for riders and staff alike.”
While in Ireland there are three outdoor tracks, there is no indoor Velodrome yet, with the plans for a facility in the Sport Ireland National Campus in Abbotstown now top of the list. Nugent said: “It’s remarkable considering Ireland has no indoor cycling training facilities of its own. It’s growing year on year and it’s inspiring to watch it all take shape, and it will get much better when a Velodrome in Ireland is secured. It’s the right time for that now.”