The 2013 UCI World Track Cycling Championships took place in Minsk, Belarus from 20th – 24th February. Outside temperatures hovered around -3C but inside the Velodrome was toasty. Of the Capital city itself we got to see the usual when we are competing anywhere, which is whatever you catch a glimpse of on the bus journeys from Hotel to Velodrome and back.
Flag Bearers in National Costume - Opening Ceremony
I arrived over to Minsk in good form having put in a solid seasons training in Mallorca, based there with a training group under the guidance of Track Cycling Coach Andy Sparks and his wife Sarah Hammer (Multiple World Champion). My own Coach Brian Nugent came in and out for some of the key periods leading into and for the racing itself. This was my 3rd season racing at an Elite Track Cycling Worlds and I went into these Championships aiming to better my Bronze Medal from last years World Championships in Melbourne, Australia.
My first race was the Individual Pursuit. The Pursuit for me is something I love training for and really enjoy racing. At Worlds last year I finished 9th, which was a result I was happy with at the time but this year I wanted more and was aiming for a Top 6 finishing position with the chance of being in the mix to make the final. I put in a good performance and when I finished my heat I was in 4th place with only one heat to go. In this event the Top four riders race in the evening to decide the medals so I had to sweat it out and wait while the last heat went off. It was hard to sit in the pits spinning my legs while watching the final heat on the big screen. Going into the last lap I was still placed ahead of the Canadian rider Laura Brown in 4th position. But she rode a great finishing lap and edged ahead of me to go through to the Bronze Medal ride-off. I was disappointed obviously but I knew I was going strong and that it would stand to me in the bunch races, which were still to come.
Individual Pursuit QualificationGoing into the Scratch race I was ready for action. I felt strong and I knew what I had to do. I had watched team-mate Martyn Irvine win World Championship Gold the day before in the same race. Talking to him afterwards he had said it was a case of coming first or last and throwing everything at the win. Needless to say, I was inspired. We worked out the best way for me to win and we waited for the opportunities. 10-15 laps to go was my time and when I got the gap with 12 on the lap-board I went for it. I was possessed and put my body and heart into every pedal-stroke and kept driving the legs as hard as I could every lap. I wasn’t gauging my effort or watching the field for someone to come across, I was just going for it. Two riders eventually came across, one of whom was Mexican rider Sofia Arreola who I train alongside in Mallorca. I had gone so far into the red at that point and when they joined me I could hardly stay with them. I kept digging and fighting but in the closing stages I couldn’t keep with them and in the finishing straight 3 riders came over me and I finished 7th. I was gutted. It’s taken me a while to stop replaying it over in my head again and again but no matter how many times I do I know that I didn’t have any more to give. With more racing experience maybe there were things I could have done better but on the day I put everything I had into it. Hopefully the lesson I learned by coming just short of a medal this time will stand to me in the future. On a happier note I was delighted for Sofia who won the Silver Medal and went on again the following day to do the same in the Points race.
On the attack in the Scratch Race
To watch the Scratch Race Click Here: Women's Scratch Race Final
For Irish Cycling this year’s Worlds were particularly special in that Ireland got it’s first Elite World Championship Gold Medal on the Track since Harry Reynolds in 1896. For me personally it was special to have raced at Worlds this year and to have been there to see my teammate Martyn Irvine win not only his first World Championship Medal in the Individual Pursuit but shortly afterwards don the Rainbow Jersey after winning Ireland’s first Track World Championship Gold. It was something else and I’ll never forget it.
Martyn Irvine - World ChampionAt the time I wasn't entirely happy with my own World Championships. I would have loved to add to Ireland's success with another Podium and although I came very close, it just wasn’t to be this year. That’s the way racing goes at times but I know how right it can go when everything clicks perfectly. That is a major force that motivates me going forward.