Stroke of luck saw Irish rider entered into Worlds Champs after all

Posted on: January 27th, 2017


In incredible chain of events at the last minute resulted in an Irish rider being entered into the Worlds this weekend even after the UCI registration was closed. JB Murphy, above, of Murphy Surveys Kilcullen is the sole Irish rider competing at the UCI world cyclocross championships in Luxembourg this weekend.


By Brian Canty

Irish cycling fans travelling to the World Cyclocross Championships in Luxembourg this weekend will at least have some skin in the game after it was decided a team would be entered late in the day.

Though it’s just national junior champion JB Murphy (Murphy Surveys, Kilcullen) competing this weekend it’s still seen as a step in the right direction for the discipline which has exploded in popularity over the last five years in Ireland.

Initially, Cycling Ireland had said there would be no team travelling this weekend but a later-than-last-minute intervention by Andy Layhe changed all that.

Layhe, born in the UK but now heavily involved at all levels in Ireland since he moved over 20 years ago, was appointed as the new cyclocross co-ordinator within Cycling Ireland’s off-road commission.

However, this happened a day after the UCI closed their registration for this weekend’s events.

“It was simply down to common sense and logic,” explained Layhe.

“A lot of criticism has been levelled directly at Cycling Ireland on the ‘will they, won’t they be riding the cyclocross worlds’ saga. But the decision essentially comes down to the off-road commission.

“We had all been consigned to the previous off-road commission’s decision of not sending a team; a decision many felt was incorrect.

“Registration for the worlds closed last Friday – a day prior to the commission AGM so it appeared that was the end of the saga.

“At the AGM I was lucky enough to be nominated and voted in as the new cyclocross co-ordinator and at 5am Monday morning I received an email from the UCI asking had Ireland made a mistake in not registering any riders for the worlds.

“They said they’d prefer to see Irish riders, particularly national champions, on the start-line,” added Layhe.

Incredibly, the UCI kindly reopened registration and made an exemption for Irish riders.

When it first emerged no team would be sent, many of those who commented said Murphy in particular deserved to be selected.

And while it may have been some good luck that saw him entered late, most feel he should have always been going.

“I knew JB Murphy was travelling to the Worlds with his family as a spectator anyway,” said Layhe of the situation after the email arrived from the UCI.

“So it made perfect sense to get him on the start-list, obtain the commission’s agreement and make the best of a bad situation.

“It’s not ideal, but JB has a great coach and has continued to train and stay in shape, the course suits him and his riding style.”

Murphy is currently ranked 36th in the world and will start with a favourable grid position from the 80 starters.

On the flip-side to Murphy’s involvement is the fact nobody else from Ireland will ride.

“I contacted them to explain the situation and they were all mature and sensible enough to realise it was too late for them to prepare physically and logistically for the event but they were delighted JB would be riding.

“I hope everyone gets behind him when he makes his debut in Luxembourg on Saturday (10am Irish time) on the UCI YouTube channel.

“There are also a large number of Irish fans who have travelled over which is a real positive.”

We’ll have a follow-up interview with Layhe where he outlines his plans for his term in office.