In front of home crowds, the Irish riders performed extremely strongly against a tough field at the Dublin Track Cycling International this weekend. With this being one of the main events on the Irish cycling calendar, the home crowd boosted riders from across the country to come away with six medals in an event which attracted world class riders from across Europe.
In the Individual Pursuit events newcomers to track cycling Eileen Burns and Marc Potts impressed with gold and silver respectively in the race against the clock. Josie Knight came agonisingly close to a win in the Women’s Omnium, while Eimear Moran stormed to victory in the Women’s Keirin.
Sprint specialist Eoin Mullen powered through the weekend to win silver in the Sprint and bronze in the Men’s Keirin. This event is supported by Dublin City Sport & Wellbeing Partnership, and on Saturday the local riders demonstrated their new track skills competing in the Future Stars race.
The results in the Individual Pursuit were particularly impressive this weekend with Burns and Potts only recently turning their attention to track racing.
From Banbridge, Burns has been making her mark in Irish racing in time trialling, with this weekend being her first foray into track racing. “This is my first time competing on the track,” she said, “and the first time doing a full pursuit. This morning was the first time I ever used a start gate.”
Potts has spent the winter training on the track, and was pleased to get a medal: “I’m fairly new to the track stuff so it was good to get a medal. In Portugal a few weeks ago I came 4th and just missed out on a medal.”
Another rider who has been focusing on the track over the winter is former rower Eimear Moran. Moran switched her attention to the track last summer, winning multiple national titles across the board.
Moran won the Keirin in a straight final, enjoying this sprint event in particular saying: “it’s great from the point of view that you are left off at speed, so that’s the bit I love because it is just flat out then. You build and build and build and then it’s flat out.”
For Knight, the weekend was bitter sweet. The young Dingle rider was leading the six discipline Omnium event for the majority of the weekend, going into the final Points Race with a marginal lead over GB rider Abigail Dentus. Unfortunately the British rider outsprinted Knight in enough sprint laps to put enough points between them to edge into the lead overall.
Knight was disappointed with her final result saying: “Coming here I didn’t know what to expect, I knew I had pretty good form and I was hoping for a good result. I surprised myself by winning the Scratch Race and starting it off well, and then I was really unfortunate in the IP.”
“The elimination race wouldn’t be my strongest race, but I hung on for third, leading going into today. This morning I really wanted to do well. Sprint events wouldn’t usually be my strong point, but I seem to have come on quite well in them. I won the 500m by 0.8 sec, and I managed to win the flying lap as well.”
“Sadly I couldn’t do it in the Points Race. She’s really quick, when it came to every sprint she was quick; and she’s smart. But coming into it if someone said ah you’re going to win 3 of the 6 events and come second, I would have said ‘I’ll take that’ but obviously when you go into it leading you want to win, and I didn’t. The omnium is a tough discipline but I love it.”
Next up for Knight is the European Championships next week, and she is using this as fuel saying: “I’m really gunning for a good result there, coming second here has given me more determination.”
In order for the Irish track cycling team to compete at the World Cups in the winter, the riders must qualify in events like the Dublin Track Cycling International throughout the summer. So while one of the main purposes of the event is to provide top class international competition for the riders in Ireland, it is also an important event in which they can gain these UCI points.
For Eoin Mullen, who bases himself outside the country for most of the year, to train and compete with riders of a similar standard, the opportunity to race at home is welcome, as his parents get to watch him race. “They’re obviously delighted for me and love to see me race.”
This was the fourth year that Ireland has hosted the Dublin Track Cycling International, and it benefits significantly from the support of Dublin City Sports and Wellbeing Partnership. The combined efforts of the Council and a dedicated team of volunteers from the Track Commission at Sundrive Velodrome has ensured that the Dublin Track Cycling International is one of the most exciting and welcome events on the Irish cycling calendar.