22nd October 2017 Ireland’s Lydia Boylan and Lydia Gurley have won a silver medal at the 2017 UEC Track Elite European Championships in Berlin today. The powerful pair stormed into the medals after lapping the field twice. Gold went to Great Britain’s Elinor Barker and Eleanor Dickinson, with the bronze medal going to Dutch multiple World and European Champion Kirsten Wild with her partner Amy Pieters.
The timing of this elite silver medal comes at an exciting time for Irish track cycling with confirmation of a funding commitment for a Velodrome at the Sport Ireland National Campus being announced last week.
Speaking after the race Boylan and Gurley were in disbelief – “It hasn’t quite sunk in,” said Boylan, “It’s my fourth elite Europeans. I train really hard every year, and finally it all came together. We have the legs, we have the power, and we are gaining in experience all the time. To get a medal is unbelievable really.”
Gurley highlighted the strength of the Irish pairing – “I’m really proud of what we achieved today. It was an awesome team effort. We work really well together. I’m still in disbelief – it means so much to us – and that it’s a team medal as well! It means so much more than an individual medal. We always work really hard, and it’s worth it – we push each other in training to get better. You give 100% because you know the other one is giving 100% too.”
The Madison has recently been added to the Olympic programme, and this year was the first year for it to be included in the women’s track programme. The Irish team are coached by former Madison World Champion David Muntaner, and have been honing their skills and technique in their track base in Majorca.
Boylan and Gurley eased themselves into the 30km race, remaining calm and composed in the early stages. “It took us a while to settle into it,” said Dubliner, Boylan, “We haven’t raced since the worlds, so we didn’t have any expectations. We didn’t panic, and after 20 laps got to the front of the group – we were watching moves, and watching David. Then we got into the group that got a lap, and then we took another one. We were up there and racing – we were in the race, not just chasing like we were doing at the Worlds last year.”
Galway’s Gurley echoed her teammate saying “It took a little while to settle into it – but we stayed calm, and knew it would take a bit to settle – we haven’t raced in six months. When we got to the front of the group we were more comfortable there. We positioned ourselves well, and we were strong enough and smart enough to do that.”
“We got into a group of three that got a lap, and then just waited. It was a hard race, and then David told me to go again. I was in pain, but everyone else was in more pain. We just worked really hard and picked up the extra lap. We were well positioned, our changes were good, our timing was a bit off, but we didn’t miss any changes. If you miss one, it’s game over.”
The Irish women were leading coming into the last sprint which had double points on offer. Gurley said “The last sprint was just so fast – there wasn’t a lot we could do. But if you told me this morning that we would get silver, I wouldn’t have believed you!! Ultimately, we are two strong riders, and that’s good. Technically we can get better, and we have three more races coming up in the next few weeks, and racing is the best training you can do.”
With two World Cups coming up in the next three weeks, this bodes well for the silver medal winning duo.
“We are proving to ourselves we are strong enough to compete. Today we got a European medal, if we are capable of a medal here, we are capable of one on the world stage, this is going to give us a boost going into the World Cups” said Boylan, who finished 8th in the Omnium yesterday.
“It was tough to get into race mode again today, after a long day of racing yesterday – but it all came together. My legs were still there. Yesterday was my best Omnium to date, and today a European medal.”
Summing up the day Gurley said – “It was incredible to stand on the podium. It made every session worth it, every single day we work hard was worth it. We work harder than any other team, and we get better. There’s no magic formula – we work hard, that’s what we do.”
This was the final day of racing at the European Championships, with nine riders competing across fourteen events. The next competition for the Irish team is at the World Cup in Poland on the 4-5 November, with the second World Cup in Manchester the following week.
Gold: Great Britain – BARKER Elinor, DICKINSON Eleanor
Silver: Ireland – BOYLAN Lydia, GURLEY Lydia
Bronze: Netherlands – PIETERS Amy, WILD Kirsten
Gold: VOGEL Kristina (GER)
Silver: GROS Mathilde (FRA)
Bronze: SHMELEVA Daria (RUS)
18th: STEWART Robyn (IRL)
PHOTOS – Guy Swarbrick