Irish women in Olympic bid but men’s Rio 2016 dream is over

Posted on: December 2nd, 2015

Ireland will not be represented by a male team pursuit squad at the UCI Track World Cup in New Zealand this weekend but the women, above, are still trying to get to the Rio Olympics.


Cycling Ireland has opted not to send a men’s team pursuit line-up to the UCI World Cup in New Zealand this weekend.

While the association has made no comment on the future of the squad, the absence of the men from the latest round of the competition effectively ends their efforts to qualify for the Olympics.

It is a major blow for the federation, not to mention the riders; with all concerned putting in a huge amount of effort in recent seasons to develop a line-up that might get to the Rio Games.

The second World Cup meeting of the season takes place in Cambridge, New Zealand, from Friday to Sunday.

And while the male team pursuiters are absent, the Irish women have been in New Zealand since early last week getting ready to race.

The Irish women’s team pursuiters are still in contention to make it to the Rio Games, as is sprinter Eoin Mullen who is also in New Zealand along with another Irish hope Shannon McCurley.


National records

The male team pursuit squad broke the national record in the 4km event on the first day of competition at the European Championships in Switzerland in mid October, despite finishing in 14th.

It was a superb effort by a completely new team of Martyn Irvine, Fintan Ryan, Mark Downey and Felix English but not close to the standard of the top nations.

Two weeks later, at the last UCI Track World Cup in Cali, Colombia, they were 17th of 18 teams in a time of 4:13:038, albeit without Irvine.

In contrast, the women are more experienced and after also breaking the national record at the European Championships in October – and finishing 6th – they went on to finish 10th in qualifying in Cali.

Their record-setting display of 4.31.666 from the European Championships will be their benchmark this weekend.

Mullen and McCurley will ride in the sprint and keirin events on the boards in Cambridge respectively in coming days.

The big name missing is former scratch race world champion Martyn Irvine.

However, the fact his favoured contests – the scratch and points races – are not Olympic events probably took the decision out of Cycling Ireland’s hands.

The omnium is an Olympic event and Irvine has some real pedigree in it, having taken a bronze medal from the European Championships two years ago.


Irish schedule

  • Women’s Team Pursuit, Thursday at midnight Irish time: Caroline Ryan, Josie Knight, Lauren Creamer, Lydia Boylan, Melanie Spath (four of five to be confirmed)
  • Men’s Sprint, Saturday 8pm Irish time: Eoin Mullen
  • Women’s Keirin, Saturday 10.30pm Irish time: Shannon McCurley