The Irish Track Nationals took place on Saturday and Sunday 29th August. The weather was fantastic with sunshine and little or no wind and a great weekend of racing was had.
Day 1 saw the Individual Pursuit as the first competition. Lydia Gurley (Aerocoach) was on a mission and had decided to focus on this one event. She rode a fantastic time of 4.00.53 to qualify 6 second up on last year’s winner Eimear Moran. This gap ensured Gurley could start the final with some confidence and once she got her opponent in her sights was able control affairs and take the win in a time of 4.01.48 to Moran’s 4.15.88.
The bronze ride off was a more tense affair. Deborah Madden (Sundrive) was up against Orla Hendron (Scott-Orwell) but Orla had qualified 3 seconds faster than Debs in the heats in a time of 4.18.49. Deborah put in a great ride trailing Orla initially but took over the lead after three laps and despite a last ditch surge by Orla, Debs took the bronze in a time of 4.18.49 – a PB and her first ever National medal to boot.
Pursuit Podium – Lydia Gurley First time National Champion!
The sprint competition was next and Eimear Moran qualified fastest with a time of 13.48 seconds and indeed defended her title from last year taking the win from Autumn Collins (Starley Racing). The highlight of the sprint competion however was to see two first year senior riders, Autumn and Deirbhle Ivory (Bray Wheelers) on the podium taking silver and bronze. The future of track sprinting is looking bright. Deirbhle was also thrilled to ride a PB in the qualification round of 13.67 seconds, less then 0.2 seconds off Moran, so was having a good day all round.
Two happy girls – First Individual Senior National medals as first year seniors!
The first competition on day 2 was the 500TT. Conditions were good and Eimear took gold with a time of 39.06. Susie Mitchell took the silver medal and Deirbhle Ivory found herself on the podium again for bronze and with yet another PB (41.19).
The surprise result of the weekend came in the Scratch Race. Eimear Moran was the hot favourite to take the win but it wasn’t to be. There were a number of attacks in the first half, with the first year senior Autumn Collins after another medal and very active in these – initially going on a solo attack from the gun followed by being part of a 4 woman break. All the early attacks were shut down, mostly by Eimear Moran who seemed to want the race to end in a bunch sprint. Orla Hendron had other ideas and timing it well attacked with 12 laps to go as the bunch was slowing and moving up the track. No one initially responded and Orla had half a lap before anyone in the bunch tried to chase. The chase never got going properly as some riders seemed content to let Orla go which disrupted any attempts to chase effectively. Eimear Moran then tried to attack the bunch to get over to Orla on her own but couldn’t shake off Fiona Guihan (Irish Centre for Cycling) or Susie Mitchell. The three chasers were making little inroads as all 3 didn’t seem committed to a concerted chase, with Eimear more intent on getting over on her own instead of working with her Sundrive teammate and Fiona to close the gap.
In the end Orla comfortably took the win and Eimear took second and Susie Mitchell 3rd. Fiona was disappointed with 4th but she showed what a strong rider she is and is definitely going to be a force to be reckoned with in the future on the track.
Eimear Moran and Orla Hendron with their very happy coach Mark Kiely
Orla was absolutely thrilled with her wonderful victory taking her first ever National Title at 52 years of age. It was a fantastic win and well deserved. She said afterwards that staying away wasn’t the hard bit – it was the last two laps because her heart was in her mouth thinking someone might catch her!