New top man in Irish cyclocross explains his plans for the sport

Posted on: January 30th, 2017

Andy Layhe has taken over as coordinator of Irish cyclocross and believes Ireland can progress (Photo: Gerry McManus – splitsecondimages.co.uk)

 

By Brian Canty

Cycling Ireland’s new cyclocross co-ordinator Andy Layhe has outlined his ambitious plans for his term in office, with participation in the biggest events high on his list of priorities.

Layhe, born in England but living near Belfast for over 20 years, is a coach and advisor to some of the best talent in Ireland.

And he has managed and overseen many trips abroad in the past.

He believes the time is right to invest in the off-road scene here so Ireland can catch up with some of the other nations like Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK.

“I’ll do my utmost to move things forward in any way I can,” he told stickybottle.

“Season-planning and goal-setting are paramount in any cycling discipline, particularly cyclocross.

“So it’s important riders know what’s happening from a selection point of view at the beginning of the season,” he added in clear reference to uncertainty around the selection, of not, of an Irish teams for the Worlds last weekend.

Cycling Ireland, via its off-road commission, announced no Irish team would be sent to Luxembourg and setting out the criteria the riders would have needed to meet to be picked.

It left many disappointed that cyclocross was not being afforded the respect it deserved, especially since it has developed so much here in recent years.

In the end the decision was taken to have representation and national junior champion JB Murphy was selected and rode the junior race, finishing on the same lap as the winner.

Layhe continued: “We can’t change what’s happened in the past but we can certainly change things for the better in future.

“Sending a team to the 2016 European Championships was a huge positive but we really need to be competing at the worlds.

“This will drive our own domestic scene and we’ll see improvements across all riders in all categories.”

Cyclocross is on the rise in Ireland and participation numbers are stronger than ever in recent years. More clubs are actively promoting it.

For example, Orwell Wheelers are currently in the process of trying to promote an Irish National Youth Cyclocross Championships for next month, a clear indication of where the sport is going.

“Some people think our riders simply aren’t good enough and let’s be realistic, they’re not going to compete with the Belgians any time soon,” said Layhe.

“But with gradual changes and goal-setting much more is achievable.

“Even our performances at world championship level on road and track aren’t huge but you have to start somewhere.

“And providing riders with better coaching, development and goals can lift achievements.”

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