Ireland’s Madison pairing of Felix English and Mark Downey finished ninth in the Madison at the 2018 UCI Track Cycling World Championships yesterday, with the world title going to Germany ahead of Spain and Australia.

Germany displayed their strength by winning five out of the twenty sprints on offer, as well as lapping the field with Spain, Australia and Austria also taking a lap. The Irish duo performed well to pick up five sprint points, totalling eleven points and resulting in ninth overall.

“After today’s race we can take some positives and some negatives,”
Downey explained after the race, “we were technically so much better than last year. We were ninth, which is not something to shout about – we were sixth last year, but this is a new Olympic event so it’s hotly contested.”

The pace of the 200-lap race was 2km per hour faster than it was last year – “The Madison is really just taking off,” said Downey, “I looked at the speed of last year’s race, and it was 55.3km per hour, and this year it was 57.1, which is a huge difference if you look at the Watts.”

English describes a fast, competitive race – “The race was pretty quick straight away. A lot of teams were competitive, unlike the last few years when there were one, two or three teams really dominant. There were a lot of teams fighting for it.”

Both riders feel the result doesn’t reflect their jump in standard. 25-year-old English said “we were a lot more competitive this year, and I thought that technically we rode really well. We just lacked a bit physically still, but I’m pretty confident we can get up to that level over the course of the summer.”

Team Wiggins rider Downey agreed, adding that he didn’t feel his best physically today – “we were technically so much better than last year, but I felt that I just lacked some of the legs on the day. Felix held me together a wee bit. I didn’t feel I was on a good day and felt under pressure.”

“We went out and literally laid everything on the line to see what we could do. For the first 100 laps I think we raced quite well, but in the end, I think my legs fell off a wee bit on me. I felt I lacked a bit of endurance at that top end speed today.”

Photo: Guy Swarbrick

Next season is a big one for track cyclists, as it is the beginning of the Olympic qualifying process, and both riders are looking forward to getting stepping up to the mark.

“The next two years is really important,” emphasised Downey, “qualifying for the Madison in Tokyo is going to have our full focus. We feel we took a step forward from last year, but need to take another few in the right direction to be competing at this level.”

“It’s definitely going to be an exciting journey for the next few years, focusing on qualifying for the Olympics – our full focus is going to be on that, so watch this space!”


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