Irish ladies bag silver medal in velodrome with an 'incredible' European effort
After some strong rides and close calls during the week, Lydia Boylan and Lydia Gurley won a medal for the Irish track cycling team at the 2017 UEC Track Elite European Championships in Berlin yesterday.
After lapping the field twice in the 30km Madison event - which sees pairs of riders slingshot each other into the race every couple of laps - the Irish duo were only beaten to gold in the final sprint by Great Britain's Elinor Barker and Eleanor Dickinson, with the bronze medal going to Holland with Kirsten Wild and Amy Pieters.
With no velodrome in Ireland, the Irish squad are coached by former Madison World Champion David Muntaner in Majorca, but neither Gurley or Boylan had ridden together competitively in six months before yesterday's amazing display.
"It took us a while to settle into it," admitted Boylan afterwards,
"We haven't raced since the Worlds, so we didn't have any expectations. We didn't panic, and after 20 laps got to the front of the group.
"We were watching moves, and watching David. Then we got into the group that got a lap, and then we took another one.
"We were up there and racing - we were in the race, not just chasing like we were doing at the Worlds last year."
The Irish pair were leading the race coming into the final lap, but with double points on offer on the line were narrowly beaten by the British duo.
"The last sprint was just so fast - there wasn't a lot we could do" said Gurley.
"But if you told me this morning that we'd get silver, I wouldn't have believed you.
"It was incredible to stand on the podium. It made every session worth it, every single day we worked hard was worth it.
"We work harder than any other team, and we get better. There's no magic formula - we work hard, that's what we do," she added.
Meanwhile, on the road Nicolas Roche finished third on stage four of the six-day Tour of Guangxi WorldTour race in China.
Having attacked on the final climb yesterday, Roche was caught and passed in the final kilometre by eventual stage winner Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) and Dutchman Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), crossing the line just four seconds back.
The leader in the King of the Mountains classification, Roche now lies third overall, nine seconds behind new race leader Wellens and looks set to claim a podium place with just two days remaining.