Top young gun reacts to Cycling Ireland’s decision on Worlds

Posted on: January 12th, 2017

David Conroy has said Cycling Ireland needed to outline Worlds criteria at the start of the season rather than at the end, as it did yesterday (Photo: Toby Watson)


Having emerged as one of the leading riders, in both the U23 and elite categories, on the cyclocross scene in recent years, David Conroy has taken issue with a statement by Cycling Ireland yesterday.

In it the national governing body revealed there would be no Irish team going to the World Championships at the end of the month.

It also said the focus going forward would be on young developing riders and that racing abroad rather than being the best at home was the key criteria for Worlds selection.

Older riders would need to fund themselves to ride well abroad and get results and it was only then that they would be considered for Worlds selection.

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And younger riders would need to compete abroad, including the UK, and also get to the Europeans and ride well there before being picked for the Worlds.

Conroy, in very measured and reasonable comments, said he did not want to speak out as an expression of his disappointment at not being sent to the Worlds, as he was last year.

He said he was disappointed for JB Murphy (Kilcullen Murphy Surveys) who won the junior Irish cyclocross title on Sunday and Roger Aiken who won the elite crown because they had not been picked.

And many people also felt women’s champion Beth McCluskey made a very strong case to be selected because of her dominance at home this season.

“The biggest problem I see with the statement put out (by Cycling Ireland) is that it is about five months too late,” said Conroy.

“To lay out the season’s plans/requirements at the end of the season is unfair on the riders.

“We are not telepathic and cannot possibly know what is expected of us to achieve a place on any possible Worlds team without clear direction at the start of the year.”

Conroy added that based on the “explosion” in the growth of cyclocross in Ireland in the last three to four years and the fact an Irish team was sent to the Worlds last year, it was not illogical for the riders to expect a team would go again this year.

And he believed the decision not to send seemed to be based on the performance of the, U23 and junior, riders selected for Europeans late last year.

“I view the performance as a success given the huge inexperience of both the riders and staff who are not regulars at such high profile events,” he said.

And aside from his crash at the first corner of the U23 race, a regular hazard in cyclocross, the team had ridden very well.

He then pointed to the section of the Cycling Ireland statement, published via its off-road commission, which read: “Should a rider do well in 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”.

Conroy felt the only part of the criteria he did not meet was the strong Europeans result, pointing out he had other very strong results abroad.

“I gained an U23 podium at a British National Trophy and based on the current data provided on the Cycling Ireland website that should have gained me selection to the World Championships even as an elite rider as I was within 10 per cent of the Elite winner’s time.”

He said even after making the podium in Britain he made a self-funded trip to the Namur Cyclocross World Cup where he was 41st.

“Also I might add there is a travel allowance from the UCI for travelling racers; €150 per rider or €600 for a team of four.

“That’s a good chunk of a weekend’s expenses as I’m self-funded, this allowance with prior knowledge would have allowed me to be at the following World Cup in Huesden Zolder where I potentially would have placed even better.

“Neither myself nor Cycling Ireland, seemingly, was aware of this allowance and I only found out through the British coaches.”

He was very disappointed for Aiken, Murphy and McCluskey that no team was going to the Worlds, adding his own disappointment was a given. But he respected the decision not to send a team and looked forward to more improvements next year.