A strong Irish team will be travelling to Beijing this weekend to take part in the third leg of the World Cup series. The team have been putting the final touches to their preparation at a training camp in Palma, Majorca and are hoping to build on their superb showing in Cali, Colombia last month. This is the fourth qualifying event of 12 towards qualification for the London Olympic Games next year that includes the European Championships, 4 world cup events and the World Championships over a 2 year period.
Martyn Irvine will be racing in the Omnium event; this is a multi-event competition that is being introduced in the 2012 Olympics. Irvine has been impressive with top ten results in the European Championships and the World Cup in Cali in 2010 that has kept him in contention for a top 8 (European) place that will qualify him in London. The women’s team pursuit team will be boosted by the presence of Siobhan Horgan, who has been Ireland’s top international road racer in recent years. While new to track cycling, Horgan brings a wealth of experience and skill to the team, who have been going from strength. Felix English at 18 is the youngest member of the track squad and will be competing in the points race.
Irvine is one of Ireland’s top Olympic hopes in cycling, and has been steadily improving his times and placings in the 6 events that make up the Omnium over the past few months, clocking up crucial qualifying points towards securing a place in London.
The team has just completed a 10 day training camp in Palma where the Paralympic Team were also present preparing for the Paracycling World Championships in March (11th-13th); combining road and track training. Unfortunately, due to illness, Ciara Horne who rode in Cali was unable to attend the camp, so for Beijing Siobhan Horgan will replace Horne in the women’s pursuit team. Horgan new to the team pursuit discipline said “I am really excited about the new challenge that the track will bring, I have already learnt so much from the girls and am really looking forward to working with and learning from Andy. It is a new and exciting prospect for me and I am relishing this opportunity” on her selection. The trio of Ryan, O’Reilly and Horgan will look to improve on the excellent 3.31.708 and the National Record they achieved in Cali. While unable to improve on her formidable 4th place in the individual pursuit as this event is not held in Beijing, Caroline Ryan is aiming to lead the team pursuit squad to another record time.
Jennifer O’Reilly will race in the Team Pursuit and Omnium events. O’Reilly was forced to withdraw from this event in Cali due to concussion that she suffered following a fall in the qualifier. She will be looking to improve the form that she had at the European Championships in early November (5th-7th) and is aiming for a top 10 finish.
Performance Director Phil Leigh is confident the team will continue to show improvements in Beijing, he commented, “This team is still relatively new and the riders continue to learn and gain confidence in all the disciplines and events they ride at each of the World Cup’s. The squad are coming off a solid training and tapering block in Majorca and Beijing is another opportunity for Martyn Irvine to secure an Omnium top 10 finish and show improvement in the bunched events; while Felix English can claim a top 10 in the points race. The women impressed a lot of people in Cali and I expect this improving trend to continue, we have introduced Siobhan Horgan for this event and I am confident she will make a positive impact on the team.”
Racing starts on Friday 21st January and finishes on Sunday 23rd January. The team will arrive back in Dublin on Monday 24th January.
Riders and events:
Men’s Omnium – Martyn Irvine
Men’s Points Race – Felix English
Women’s Team Pursuit – Caroline Ryan, Jennifer O’Reilly and Siobhan Horgan
Women’s Omnium – Jennifer O’Reilly