“This is a chance normal people don’t get; I go in with no ego”

Posted on: October 4th, 2016

Martyn Irvine has been unveiled among the first batch of riders signed by Ireland’s new pro team Aqua Blue Sport. Its schedule already includes races like Milan Sanremo and Amstel Gold (Photo: Cathal Noonan)


By Brian Canty

The words ‘luck’ and ‘Martyn Irvine’ have rarely been put in the same sentence before now but after he was officially named an Aqua Blue Sport rider, it’s the word he mentioned more than any other speaking about the next phase of his career.

The 31 year-old had stepped away from a life of track racing that featured many peaks and troughs, broken bones and broken dreams – but a few broken records too.

Now, he knows he hasn’t time on his side any more so he’s rapidly getting into the shape he knows is required to compete at the highest level of a sport he’s always had a love-hate relationship with.

At the team’s launch yesterday he was very much back in love with it and confirming that was the eight-hour ride he “enjoyed every minute of” last week.

Yes, Irvine is pumped.

“I put the feelers out in June and then I suppose the initial contact from Aqua Blue Sport was only about a month ago,” he recalled.

Yesterday, the team named four of the 16 riders who will take on the world’s biggest stars and teams in 2017 and among the Irish contingent leading the charge is Irvine.

“I feel very lucky, I suppose with funding I just followed the path to whoever gave me money and I was lucky in that I was good at it and I enjoyed doing it,” he said of his track career.

“Obviously the road was compromised a lot because of my track commitments; I’ve always used the track as an excuse to have an average road season so hopefully this can be different.

“I’m not too old and by doing this I can make sure I have no regrets when I finally hang up the bike.”

The exact programme of races the team will compete in is yet to be confirmed but one of the most iconic in the sport is Milan San-Remo and that’s going to be one of the main targets, as are Amstel Gold and the Tour of Britain.

For Irvine, such races have always had a special appeal.

“That’s the thing, I’d be in Aigle in Switzerland on the track and I vividly remember sitting having lunch and watching some race,” he recalled.

“Maybe it was the world road race championships, everyone wants to be there. I was still watching road racing while on the track and that was years ago.”

He knows he has a long road to travel before he can be at that level but isn’t daunted by it either.

“I wouldn’t say I’m worried, I’m not going in with any ego but rather willing to do what they want and give my best.

“It sounds crazy but I did my first eight-hour bike ride during the week and I enjoyed every minute.

“I was in the saddle eight hours and that’s the state I’m in now, getting as fit as I’ve ever been, being very motivated, getting as healthy as I can be.

“I’m getting some tests done and just make sure all is in order before it gets going.

“It’s just going back to me feeling very lucky. There’s not one person who isn’t motivated in the team to do things right.

“We’ll all learn something and everyone definitely has the right motivation, there’s nobody in it to make money, it’s just a good bike racing team and I look forward to playing my part in it.

“This is the chance normal people don’t get; I’m not a superstar cyclist but to get the chance to try and be that…I think I can do it.

“And the guys in Aqua Blue Sport have put a lot of faith in me to think I can do it as well and that motivates me more.”

As regards goals, he didn’t shirk away from that either.

“I’ve said it before, I’ll be fighting a lot of good Irish guys but an Irish road title with an Aqua Blue jersey would make me very happy and to wear that jersey at a world level would be something to stay motivated for all year.”