Downey points to changing challenge as Olympic battle hots up

Posted on: December 3rd, 2018

While he is just out of the junior ranks, JB Murphy took 3rd in the tempo race during the men’s omnium at the UCI World Cup over the weekend.


Mark Downey has said he and Felix English were now riding higher gears in the madison, such has been the increase in speed in the races.

The event has been included in the Olympics, ramping up the competition as nations try to qualify riders for Tokyo 2020.

And that Downey said the challenge has now changed and gotten harder at UCI World Cups.

He was speaking after he and English placed 9th in the event at the Berlin World Cup at the weekend.

“That was a taste of what it’s going to be like for the next few years in madison,” Mark Downey said.

“We’re using completely different gears because the race is now three to four kilometres per hour faster.

“I hadn’t been on the track since the Europeans, taking a break for a couple of weeks after the road season, but I felt pretty okay.

“I maybe did lack a bit of race fitness, but I thought a top seven or eight finish would be a positive start, and we’ve taken ninth.

“We tried to come into the race late on, and maybe should have tried to score earlier, but I’m happy and Felix is happy.

“We’ve stepped up again, adapted to the race, and I feel after that performance we can step up again at London in two weeks time. I’m motivated, Felix is motivated, we are going to build on this.”

Denmark, Great Britain and Germany told gold, silver and bronze respectively in Berlin.


Boylan, Stewart and the men’s madison pairing.


The Irish women tried a new madison pairing, with Olympian Shannon McCurley joining Lydia Gurley in the line-up.

They finished 13th in their race and will ride again as a pair at the upcoming World Cup in London.

The medals in their event in Germany this weekend were won by Great Britain, Denmark and Belgium, in that order.

First-year U23 rider, and a medal winner at the track Worlds and Europeans last year, JB Murphy got the nod for Berlin and was 17th in the men’s omnium.

Along the way he took 3rd in his tempo race, a very solid result considering his age.

Lydia Boylan, a three-time national road race champion, was 14th in the women’s omnium. Sprinter Robyn Stewart was 17th in the keirin and 23rd in the sprint.

Mia Griffin, Kelly Murphy, Alice Sharpe and Orla Walsh made up the team pursuit line-up and they were 12th in qualifying last Friday.

Brian Nugent, Cycling Ireland’s technical director, said the team would target improvements but were on the right track.

“The men’s madison back in the top 10 again was the result of the weekend,” he said of Downey’s and English’s ride.

“That was the race we really needed to improve on from the last Track World Cup, and we’ve done that. Now we need to go up another level by London.

“JB Murphy won a silver medal the junior world championships last year. He really has a lot of potential.

“And we’re trying to bring him along by giving him opportunities like this. This is his first year racing with seniors and he’ll be one to watch.”