Credit: Ireland Cycling
Irish pair finish eighth in Glasgow
The Women’s Madison of Lydia Gurley and Lydia Boylan have finished 8th at the European Championships in Glasgow today. The 120 lap race was fast paced from the start, with no teams gaining a lap throughout the 30km. Gold went to Denmark, silver to Russia and bronze to Netherlands.
An attack with 25 laps to go saw the Irish women look for a lap, but with the points tight at the top, they were not given the opportunity – they held on for second in the sprint, and the much needed 3 points to put them into 8th place. Last year at this event Gurley and Boylan won a silver medal; with the Madison now on the Olympic Programme, the standard of racing in this event increases each year.
Speaking after the event Gurley said “it was really tough, really quick. We started quite well which was good, but then it blew up – it was just so rapid, and we weren’t really in the right position for the sprints. That put us on the back foot a bit – but we picked up some points, and got a bit more experience at the bigger races with the longer laps”
The Irish duo were attempted to get a lap, but as the race panned out it was clear that it would come down to sprint points. Boylan explained – “we are not quite at the point where we can consistently compete in the sprint – both Lydia Gurley and I are attacking riders and definitely prefer to get off the front either on our own or in a small group. Today it just didn’t work out for us, it was frantic from start to finish. Bad positioning cost us, to be able to make an attack you need to be at the front of the bunch, it’s a long way around when you’re at the back.”
At the World Cups the distance for the Women’s Madison is 80 laps, significantly shorter than today’s 120 lap race.
“We will watch that with a bit of disappointment because we know we have the legs for this,” Boylan added, “but there are positives to take from it too. We had a much better start than we have had and we still had the legs at the end. I think we will take a lot of confidence from that. The World and European Champs are the only races where you race the full distance – it’s 120 laps, whereas it’s only 80 laps at the World Cups.”
While there are several opportunities for the men’s teams to compete at a high level throughout the year, there are not as many races for the women, with it being so new on the Olympic programme, and championship programme. Gurley explains how they take they take the opportunities when they can – “the guys have the 6-days races where they get to race Madison over six days, but for the women you don’t get so many opportunities, and you wouldn’t always get the same standard as here or sixteen in the field so we are just going to have to try to be more confident and be in the right positions.”
Earlier this morning an incredible ride from Robyn Stewart in the Women’s Keirin saw her just miss out on the one place on offer to the semi finals in her repechage at the European Championships in Glasgow today. The Belfast woman was fourth in her heat earlier today. With the first two automatically progressing to the semi-finals Stewart had to race again in the repechages. The winner would progress to the second round.
Stewart raced a tactically smart race making her move with one lap to go, passing the Lithuanian and Italian riders. In the home straight Stewart pushed again moving around double European Champion Daria Shmeleva of Russia. On the line she had to settle for second in what was a phenomenal race for the relative newcomer to cycling.
Speaking after the race Stewart said – “I’m still buzzing – it was exciting for me. I tried to be patient and tried to look for gaps and come underneath, and do the opposite to what I did in the first round. In the first round I just went full gas. It was really close there in the end – and I feel positive.
“Daria, the girl that won, she’s the current sprint and 500m European Champion, so not too bad that I didn’t quite get around her.
“I would have loved to have make the last twelve – that would have been a real dream. But I do believe – when I see what I have done in the last three years – and Tokyo is two years away – big things can happen! I can get my head around these tactics and physically get a lot better. I believe if I can get there I can really compete.”
Marc Potts has finished 11th in the Men’s Elimination Race at the European Championships in Glasgow today. Potts was looking strong for the first half of the race moving easily through the groups. When the bunch lined out he found himself towards the back and at a disadvantage in the tactical race where the last rider over the line on every second lap is knocked out.
“It felt like at the start of the race I was doing the right things and making the right moves and I was reading it quite well, and not really using any legs. About five laps before I went out there I made the mistake of not coming over the top trying to be more savvy, and thinking I was saving a bit more energy.
“I was probably thinking I was a bit more comfortable than I was, and I got caught out coming around the last corner there. It went from me thinking I was safe to being completely out. It was a tough lesson to learn, but I was always going to learn something in this race.”
Potts is targeting the Omnium for the Tokyo Olympics and has been riding strongly in this event throughout the summer. However, due to the earlier date of these Championships, English was the only Irish rider who could compete in the Omnium in Glasgow in a bid to qualify points for the World Cup season which kicks off in October.
“Felix had to do the Omnium this week to qualify for the World Cups. It was kind of sickening watching it this week because I know that’s what I want to be doing, although he did an awesome ride, and I’d be delighted to come out with a ride like that. Felix can pass on a load of knowledge to me – he’s been doing it for a long time now so it’s great, he can pass on any mistakes he has made and hopefully I won’t make them myself.”
Today was the final day of track cycling, attention now moves to the mountain bike race – with Gareth McKee representing Ireland this afternoon.
History is made this week when Glasgow and Berlin host the inaugural European Championships, an exciting multi-sport event bringing together some of the continent’s leading sports, including the existing UEC cycling championships.
Gold DENMARK (42)
Silver RUSSIAN FEDERATION (38)
Bronze NETHERLANDS (34)
8th IRELAND (3)
Gold Matthew Walls (GB)
Silver Rui Oliviera (POR)
Bronze Szymon Krawczyk (POL)
11th Marc Potts (IRL)
4th Robyn Stewart (IRL)
2nd Robyn Stewart (IRL)
Gold Mathilde Gros (FRA)
Silver Nicky Degrendele (BEL)
Bronze Daria Shmeleva (RUS)
13th Robyn Stewart (IRL)