Cycling Ireland has said winning on the home scene is not good enough to be picked for the World Cyclocross Championships. No team is being sent to the Worlds later this month. Above, Roger Aiken riding the 2010 World Cyclocross Championships in the green of Ireland (Photo: Toby Watson)
While men’s national cyclocross champion Roger Aiken raised the possibility of being picked to the ride the World Championships, Cycling Ireland has confirmed no national team is being sent.
Aiken and Beth McCluskey won the men’s and woman’s elite titles in Tollymore Forest Park, Co Down, on Sunday after dominating the home scene all season.
And with junior men’s champion JM Murphy and Craig McCarthy rode the junior Europeans recently, along with emerging U23 rider David Conroy, it was felt a team may be sent to Luxembourg at the end of the month.
But in a statement released by the Cycling Ireland off-road commission it has been confirmed this evening that the green if Ireland will not grace the Worlds fields this time around.
A statement released by the commission said that gaining experience abroad rather than winning in Ireland was the key to being picked for the Worlds.
“Being the best in Ireland is not good enough to be selected to go to international events,” the statement said.
“Riders need to show commitment to the sport by competing outside of Ireland; (for example) in Britain, up against larger fields of riders.
“Only then can that rider be judged to see how well they perform. Sending a weak rider to a big international event where he/she can end out well towards the back of the group/race can be a de-motivator and we can risk losing that rider from the sport.”
Along with Aiken, Beth McCluskey staked the biggest claim for a place on an Irish team at the cyclocross Worlds (Photo: Toby Watson)
The Cycling Ireland statement added a long term plan was in place and insisted that plan was not comprised by deciding an Irish team would not travel this time.
“While this decision may come as a disappointment for some, following what has been another successful Irish National Cyclocross Championship which showcased the top class racing of our best riders, the long term development of riders is at the core of this decision from the Cycling Ireland Off-road Commission.
“In November 2016 three riders were selected to go to the European Cyclocross Championships in France. This was a successful trip from a logistics point of view and it is a good target race for us. The riders had mixed fortunes.
“For 2017 we are aiming to return to the Europeans. We are planning development days during the summer and then, if funds allow, we will aim to head over to England for one of the (UK) National Trophy rounds.
“Should a rider do well in the Europeans and continue to produce results outside of Ireland we would consider putting a case forward to send him/her to the World Championships in 2018.
“This development plan that we have considered will need a number of years to bed in and for the talent to come through the ranks. The plan should outlast the current crop of talented riders we have now.
“This plan has been shaped over the last two years. The growth in cyclocross, both in participants and events, has fuelled a new impetus in creating a development path.”
The Cycling Ireland off-road commission said it could not look back and instead could only now try to help younger riders showing promise to develop to Worlds standard.
“We cannot fix what has happened in the past. We all know that there were missed opportunities,” the statement added.
“We all know individuals who could have been international stars. We can’t go back. We can only look forward.
“We are only targeting junior and espoir riders. These riders can be seen as having potential to develop. Younger riders should be developed locally, within Ireland.
“Older riders would have needed to be picked up by teams or would need to try to self-support themselves to achieve results outside of Ireland to be considered for any support. All have to understand that the purse is not big.
“Cycling Ireland has decreed that riders are not allowed to self-fund themselves to World Championships. They can do that for World Cups provided they have shown good results.”