Ireland manager critical of decision not to send team to Worlds

Posted on: January 12th, 2017

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The Irish team at the European Cyclocross championships in France (on October 29-30th) saw junior riders Craig McCarthy and JB Murphy, as well as U23 man David Conroy bag huge experience. Their manager that weekend, Andy Layhe, far right, has said not sending an Irish team to the upcoming World Championships sends out a very dangerous message to aspiring riders.

 

By Brian Canty

One of the country’s foremost authorities on cyclocross, Andy Layhe, has said the decision not to send riders to the World Championships in Luxembourg in just over two weeks will negatively impact the sport.

Layhe, from Britain but living in Belfast for 20 years, raced for Great Britain throughout the 80s and almost medalled at the the World Championships in his heyday only for a last corner crash to end his chances.


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He currently mentors a slew of Irish riders including up-and-coming U23 David Conroy and women’s national champion Beth McCluskey.

He said transparency is the biggest issue with Cycling Ireland now.

“At the end of the day, the riders suffer. The decision not to send a team is simply stating that riders aren’t good enough,” he told stickybottle.

“Realistically yes; riders won’t make the top 20. But the experience of juniors and U23 riders racing on the world stage is invaluable,” he added.

He believed Ireland is in a similar position now to that the US, Australia and Japan were in some 15 years ago.

 

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Recently-crowned national junior champion JB Murphy was one of the riders Layhe felt particularly sorry for.

 

“Look at those nations now; USA are sending 30 riders to the Worlds,” argues Layhe, who puts on coaching days and is a cyclocross driving force in Ireland.

“They implemented structures to help develop ’cross and they’re reaping the rewards.

“If every nation said they weren’t sending riders to a World Championships because they didn’t have a chance, then the event would only contain the likes of Belgium and the Netherlands.

“Our domestic scene has never been better but having success on the domestic scene must have a value placed on it. Plus, the UCI want to see national champions in their events.

“The overall lack of transparency is the biggest issue with ’cross,” he continued.

“Year on year, each season starts and there is no clear statement as to whether there will be a Worlds team or not.

“This is all about planning; and riders and coaches can’t plan without a structure.

“By stating at the start of the season that there are Worlds places available; it will only increase the quality of the domestic scene as riders fight for places.

“It’s a no-brainer and one that every cyclocross nation implements.”

Layhe managed the Irish team at the World Championships 12 months ago and European Championships last October.

For the Europeans, in France, the riders got 12 days notice that they were definitely going.

“JB Murphy rode a fantastic race with little preparation,” said Layhe.

“He started last on the grid and a last-lap puncture prevented an even higher placing.

“After his impressive nationals win and good preparation he’s twice the rider he was at the Euros.

“The Luxembourg course would have suited him so I’m disappointed for him and his family.

“If these riders don’t receive the recognition and support they deserve they could easily leave it for another discipline.”

 

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