Irvine targets Worlds after ending 18-year Irish drought
Martyn Irvine claimed Ireland's first gold medal at the UCI Track World Cup in almost two decades when he won the points race at Manchester Velodrome at the weekend.
Despite racing with a pin inserted in his leg, the legacy of a broken femur suffered in a crash in March, Irvine followed up a bronze medal in the omnium at the European Track Championships a couple of weeks ago with a storming last-minute victory in the points race on Saturday.
The Down man went clear with around 30 laps to go in the 120-lap points race, and stayed out front to take maximum points in the final three sprints and secure the gold medal with a three-point victory over Olympic omnium champion Lasse Norman Hansen of Denmark.
"I rode smart for the first half of the race," said Irvine. "I didn't want to race too much. Then I started to use my head. I looked around and other guys were grimacing more than me. I rolled off the front and got into the groove."
Having given Ireland a first gold medal at a Track World Cup since Waterford sprinter Declan Lonergan's victory in Cuba in 1995, Irvine is hoping to regain some of the speed lost through injury and build towards defending his scratch race title at the World Track Championships in Cali, Colombia in February.
"That's the big aim, the world championships," said Irvine.
"I'm pretty strong at the moment, but I've lost that explosive speed and the races I used to be strong in, like the pursuit, are now my weakest events but I haven't ridden a lot of them recently with the injury.
"I'm not a million miles away from really good form though, so when I get back to decent form, I should be a better omnium rider for it."