Legend of the boards; Martyn Irvine’s magic career in video

Posted on: January 6th, 2016

A very young Martyn Irvine trackside in Holland in 2011, before his career really took off and he became a legend of Irish cycling.


By Brian Canty

The now retired Martyn Irvine was an excellent road rider, but it was on the velodrome that he etched his name into world cycling’s history books.

He represented Ireland at the Olympics and won three medals at the World Championships, including his 2013 gold in the scratch race less than a hour after taking individual pursuit silver.

He also took a bronze in the team pursuit at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010, a bronze medal in the omnium at the European Championships in 2013 and another silver in the scratch race at the World Championships the following year.

Added to those four major championships medals were two silvers at the UCI World Cup meeting in Glasgow in 2012 and a points race gold at the World Cup in Manchester the following year.

Here’s some of his best bits; in no particular order.


Riding solo into Kildare, Rás stage 7, May 2011

Irvine became the first Irish winner of the 2011 with a win he’ll surely regard as one of his best ever.

The start-list was star-studded but he and his Asia Giant Kenda team were under pressure to deliver a result.

They might have left it late but it was surely worth it, with Irvine winning on the penultimate day from Tramore to Kildare and David McCann repeating the feat 24 hours later into Skerries.

Irvine was in the day’s break of eight riders and bared his teeth by taking the first intermediate sprint after 70k.

He was active on the two climbs but when the chase began in earnest behind – led by the An Post Sean Kelly team, the breakaway men started to crumble, one my one.

Sensing danger, Irvine attacked with 30k to go and took two of the seven others with him, though they were both dropped within 10 kilometres.

At that stage, Irvine had a minute on the remainder of the peloton but try as they might, the bunch couldn’t catch him.

“Someone told me it was my day today and I didn’t get excited and just used my head.

“When I saw the 5K to go sign I gave everything and it worked out well,” he said after he held on by just six seconds.

Pointing to the sky as he crossed the line it was clear Irvine had the late Paul Healion in his mind, his close friend who was killed in a car accident 18 months earlier.

“I was good buddies with Paul Healion. It was an inspiration knowing him, he was a great bike rider and I’m delighted to do what he did as well.” [Healion was a Rás stage winner in 2009]


World Champs 2013: Scratch race gold

What can we say that hasn’t been said already about the moment Irvine took the world title, and Ireland’s first for over a century?

Irvine entered the race in superb form but few could have expected him to jump away like he did and hold off the charging Andreas Muller of Austria until the finish line.

No words can adequately describe the quality of this win, so just watch it.


World Champs 2013: Individual pursuit silver

Irvine also managed to win a silver in the individual pursuit – an incredible performance that came less than an hour before his triumph in the scratch event at the same championships.

That he was narrowly beaten by defending world champion Michael Hepburn made it all the more astonishing.


World Champs 2014: Scratch race silver

Irvine was attempting to win back-to-back titles in the 15k scratch at the World Track Cycling Championships in Cali, Colombia.

The Newtownards cyclist was in flying form again and gained a lap with only seven remaining.

Things looked good until Russian Ivan Kovalev managed to escape and hold on for the win but it was a third World Championship medal for Irvine.


European Champs 2013: Omnium bronze

Seven months after breaking his hip in a horror crash racing in Taiwan Irvine claimed bronze in the Netherlands in the six-event Omnium.

It was his first ever Omnium medal and to do so he needed top results in the points race (1st), IP (3rd), elimination race (4th) as well as also scoring in the scratch, 1k TT and 250m flying lap.


World Cup 2013, Manchester: Points race gold

Just over six months on after fracturing his femur in a crash at the Tour of Taiwan, Irvine claimed the gold medal in the men’s points race at the UCI World Cup in Manchester.

Again, it was a nail-biter and he had to win the final sprint to clinch overall victory in the 30-kilometre event.

Only Irvine could have come back like that, beating Olympic Omnium champion Lasse Norman Hansen of Denmark and top Italian road sprinter Elia Viviani.

Speaking after his points race win at that 2013 World Cup in Manchester, Irvine said he was delighted to have bounced back so well after his crash in Taiwan.

“I must have done something right in rehab, looks like I need to break a leg to get good results,” he joked, referring to his crash and comeback.

“I rode smart for the first half of the race, I didn’t want to race too much, but 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 in the groove. A Spanish guy came across to me and we committed. It was all or nothing.”


World Cup 2012, Glasgow: Pursuit and scratch silver medals

After the disappointment of finishing 7th at the London Olympics, Irvine revealed he was in great form when he took two silver medals at the UCI World Cup in Glasgow in November 2012.

He was beaten by Lasse Norman Hansen, above, for gold in the pursuit. The Dane had taken the gold medal in the Omnium at the Olympics.

Tristan Marguet of Switzerland took scratch race gold ahead of Irvine at the same meeting in Glasgow.