Big improvement as Irish pursuiters show real character on big stage

Posted on: November 30th, 2018

After a start to forget in the international careers, at the second time of asking the Irish team pursuit women look to be well and truly on their way.


They may have endured a nightmare international debut at the European Championships, but the Irish team pursuit line-up has shown some real character today in Berlin.

They’d dusted themselves down after the bruising encounter in Glasgow in August to post a solid time at the UCI World Cup in Berlin.

The 4km event was won by Australia in a time of 4:19.073, from Team GB in 4:19.683 and the USA, who recorded 4:25.760.

The quarter of Irish women posted a time of 4:33.296, some 1.6 seconds off the national record set back in 2015.

That wasn’t fast enough to advance to the next round, where the eight quickest teams were set for head-to-head ride offs.

But finishing 12th of 15 teams in a much improved time was still a very solid performance from which they can move forward.

At the Europeans, the team of riders making their debut for Ireland split into two groups of two; a major no-no in team pursuiting where it’s all about the team effort.

And when they split up, they were unable to reform, riding instead in two pairs around the track rather than each taking turns on the front in a tight quartet formation.

However, very bad days at the office can happen. Unfortunately for the team, theirs occurred at a major championship with the cycling media and fans looking on.

But today was very significantly better. And they can now use their time recorded in Berlin as the benchmark for progressing in this event.

A measure of how much more successful they were today was that they beat their time from Glasgow by almost 24 seconds.

Today the line-up featured Mia Griffin, Orla Walsh, national TT champion Kelly Murphy and Alice Sharpe; the latter having ridden very well on the road during the summer.

While they still have much work to do in gelling together as a new team, once they do so they should go much faster.

And having gotten within the ball park of the national record, that must be their aim the next time they race.

If they were to break that Irish record, the ghosts of Glasgow would be put to bed, though they have arguably achieved that already today.

Back in October, 2015, when the Irish record was set, the line-up that broke it featured some of the most successful Irish riders of the last 10 to 15 years.

In that line-up was Caroline Ryan, a UCI World Cup medal winner and three-time national TT champion.

Riding with her that day were former road race champions Mel Spath and Lydia Boylan, who has since won silver at the Europeans in the madison.

And making up the foursome on the day was a very young Josie Knight, who won a silver medal in the individual pursuit as a first-year junior at the Europeans.

With the new line-up having gotten relatively close to the national record of the 2015 personnel, the women in action in Berlin today now look to be on their way after a challenging start.