Cycling: Roche delight as Ireland seal three Olympic road race spots
Ireland have qualified three riders for the London Olympics road race, the sports's world governing body announced yesterday.
The achievements of Daniel Martin, Nicolas Roche and Philip Deignan helped Ireland end the season with a world ranking of 13.
That's normally enough to qualify four riders, but entrants need to have scored points in the WorldTour this year, and Matt Brammeier just missed out, having spent most of the season riding for his team leader Mark Cavendish.
"It's great to get three riders in," said Roche. "It shows that we are improving every year. At the Beijing Olympics we only qualified two, and this year we really did enough to have four.
"I think we will have a good team in London and hopefully I'll be there and able to compete."
The Olympic road race comes just one week after the Tour de France but Roche knows that most of the top stars will be coming out of the Tour too.
"I think everybody will be in the same boat, all the top guys will be riding the Tour. The British squad will be very hard to beat on home ground for them. They have a really strong team, but the Olympics is a very special race and anything can happen and Ireland will be there to challenge them.
"I don't feel I performed to my best in Beijing so I'm really looking forward to giving it a good go in London if I'm selected."
For the time trial, the top 15 nations each earned one spot, with the top 10 from this year's world time trial championships earning themselves an extra place.
The Irish slot will most likely be down to either Brammeier or former national champion David McCann.
Although it's a long shot, Ireland may yet sneak another rider into the road race as the UCI will allocate places if the full allocation is not not taken up.