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Dublin: 7°C Thursday 22 October 2020

It's been a bumpy ride for Martyn Irvine but now he's ready to strike gold again on the track

He’s part of an eight rider Irish team for next week’s World Championships in France.

Irvine won silver last year.
Irvine won silver last year.
Image: Gerry McManus/INPHO

IT WOULD BE fair to say it’s been a difficult couple of months for Martyn Irvine but the immediate goal of adding a second World Championship jersey to his sitting room wall has ensured the motivation levels have remained as high as ever.

Irvine is part of an eight-rider Irish team preparing for next week’s event at the Velodrome de Saint-Quentin but it’s been a particularly bumpy ride to get there.

A debilitating injury sustained at a World Cup event in Guadalajara before Christmas left Irvine’s hopes of qualifying for Paris hanging by a thread. But, after accelerating his rehabilitation from a dislocated shoulder, Irvine is now primed to return to the track.

“I’ve put a lot of work in and I’m really looking forward to it,” he told The42 whilst packing his bags for Paris. “Apart from the Olympics, it’s the top tier of track cycling and it’s an event that I shape my year around.

“The preparations haven’t been ideal but it’s the only chance I get to fight for a world title and I’m relishing the opportunity to show off all the hard work.”

Two years ago in Minsk, Irvine won Ireland’s first track cycling gold in 117 years as well as a silver in individual pursuit event. Twelve months ago, he was on the podium again, this time in Colombia, with a silver medal around his neck.

Whilst admitting the preparations have been far from ideal, Irvine insists he’s in the best possible shape after a training camp with his Irish team mates in Majorca.

Martyn Irvine celebrates finishing second 27/2/2014 A dislocated shoulder has disrupted his preparations but Irvine is now fit and raring to go Source: Guy Swarbrick

“The last month has been good, I’m not going to lie, I’ve done some really solid work but over Christmas it was difficult because I wasn’t able to lift any heavy weights. It’s not ideal but it is what it is.

“There is a great mood in the camp, we have a lot of young talent in the team and it’s a great achievements for some of those guys to qualify.”

This is Ireland’s biggest team heading to a World Championships as Cycling Ireland’s initiative to nurture young talent begins to bear fruit.

The Women’s Team Pursuit squad has qualified for this event for the first time after moving into the top eight European nations on the back of an eleventh place finish at the World Cup event in Cali last year.

“The growth has been huge,” Irvine adds. “It was a lonely place for me when you’re spending six months away but it’s evolved so punch and given our budget, we’re punching above our weight.

“Although it gets under my skin a bit when people say we don’t do badly for a country without a track.”

Joining Irvine in the Men’s 15km scratch race is 20-year-old Ryan Mullen but all eyes will be on Ireland’s cycling pioneer.

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After finishing on the podium in consecutive years, Irvine is heading to Paris in a positive frame of mind.

Martyn Irvine 5/8/2012 There will be eight riders representing Ireland in Paris, the most ever at the World Championships Source: ©William Cherry/Presseye

“I’ve got a World Championship jersey hanging on my wall here and I would like another one. I’m going in with that positive frame of mind but it’s hard to shake off the demons I’ve had over the last while with the injury and everything.

“I’m not going in full of beans but I’m going in in the best shape possible.”

While Irvine is concentrating on next week, it would be only natural to have an eye on the top prize with Rio 2016 now appearing on the horizon. With that in mind, the Newtownards rider is competing in the Omnium Elimination Race in Paris as he looks to hit peak form.

Yet, it is an event that causes untold angst for the 29-year-old. After finishing 13th in the Omnium in London, Irvine admitted his poor performance led him to question his future in the sport.

But, if anything, the disappointment of London has focused his mind.

“London was such a bane of my life,” he admits. “I made a show of myself and really unperformed. The Olympics is now driving me on. I love track cycling but I want to bury those Olympic demons.

“I don’t want to just wear the Irish jersey but show it off. I’ve learnt not what to do from London and hopefully will put that into practise starting this week.”

While Irvine will be the cynosure of all eyes in Paris, he’s not the only Irish medal hope.

Mullen is one of the most exciting young prospects on the circuit and underlined his potential by claiming a bronze at the European U23 Track Championships in 2013.

Furthermore, he finished 4th in the Individual Pursuit 4km last year and will be hoping to go one step further this time around.

The World Championships take place between Wednesday 18 February and Sunday 22 February and the full schedules can be found here.

The Irish Track Cycling World Championship Team:

  • Martyn Irvine
  • Caroline Ryan
  • Eoin Mullen
  • Ryan Mullen
  • Lydia Boylan
  • Lauren Creamer
  • Josie Knight
  • Melanie Spath
  • Shannon McCurley

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Ryan Bailey

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