The Irish Women’s squad finished sixth in the Team Pursuit at the European Track Championships in Grenchen, Switzerland after another record setting performance in the first round this morning.
Having qualified eighth on Wednesday evening with a new national record, the Irish quartet of Lydia Boylan, Josie Knight, Caroline Ryan and Melanie Späth further reduced that benchmark with a textbook ride in the second heat.
The Irish squad trailed Germany, the second ranked team in Europe, through the first three kilometres but a beautifully controlled performance started to bear fruit in the final four laps and Ireland took the lead on the final 250m tour of the Grenchen velodrome.
They stopped the clocks in 4:31.666s, fully 3.424s faster than their Wednesday night performance and 7.796s quicker than the national record coming into the championships. That was good enough for sixth fastest time and a ride off with Italy for fifth and sixth places.
Eimear Moran slotted in for the final ride to get her first taste of championship team pursuiting thereby gaining valuable experience for the future.
It was another strong performance by Ireland who, despite trailing Italy throughout, recorded a 4m34.413s, their second fastest time since the women’s team pursuit was extended to four kilometres.
In the closing stages Mel Späth touched a wheel and tumbled to the floor. Thankfully the former national road race champion was soon back on her feet with no serious injury sustained.
Next in action for Ireland was Martyn Irvine in the Men’s Scratch Race and the former gold and silver medallist at world championship level was soon in the thick of the action.
A speculative solo attack just before one-third distance of the 60-lap, 15km event was quickly neutralised by the bunch and Irvine was unfortunate that this effort immediately preceded a five-rider attack that gained a lap.
Further lap gains by other riders meant that Irvine’s final attack in the closing laps was an attempt to escape the minor positions and he finished 11th at the line, albeit ahead of the reigning world champion Lucas Liss.
The final event of the evening was the Women’s Points Race where Josie Knight went into battle for Ireland.
The Kerrywoman had heavy legs from three team pursuit rides in the previous 24 hours but was safely with the bunch throughout the hectic 100 lap race and tried a late attack to no avail.
Tomorrow’s action at Grenchen begins with the 200m time trial qualifying rounds of the Men’s Sprint with Eoin Mullen making his first appearance of the championships.
Fintan Ryan is Ireland’s representative in the two-day Men’s Omnium. Shannon McCurley rides the Women’s Scratch Race with Mark Downey in action in the Men’s Points Race.