Ireland’s Martyn Irvine rewrote the record books in Minsk, winning a first World Championship track medal for his country in men’s competition since 1896, with a silver in the individual pursuit.
He then ripped it up and re-wrote it 30 minutes later by winning Ireland’s first gold medal since 1896 in the scratch race. Some were calling it Ireland’s first as Henry Reynolds’ medal pre-dates the modern era of bike racing.
With a perfectly-timed do-or-die attack, Irvine left the rest of the field in the final 11 laps. Austrian Andreas Muller got across to him in the last four laps but despite having ridden two 4km pursuits today, Irvine had enough to beat Muller in an exhausted sprint to the line.
“I’ve no idea how I did that,” he said after receiving his second medal of the day. “This doesn’t happen to me. I dream about this stuff.”
“After the IP final I thought I was finished. I said that was it, I’m going to be out of this race. I just got into the race and just stayed near the front, stayed out of trouble. When I went, that was me, all or nothing.”
The 27-year-old from Newtownards, Northern Ireland, gets by on a miniscule fraction of the money the British team have but is hoping his results help his coach Andy Sparks increase the small team’s funding from the Irish Sports Council.
“You couldn’t live on what I’ve been living on. Up to this year I was on the bottom possible grant you could get. Sponsors helped me along the way. Teams gave me an opportunity, family, friends. I’ll guarantee I’m one of the least funded guys on the podium. That makes it even sweeter.”
There is no velodrome in Ireland, and Irvine spends most of his time training in Majorca. “I’ve been in Majorca more than I’ve been at home in the last two years, that’s the hard part. But life could be worse.”
It was Australian Michael Hepburn that got the better of Irvine in the individual pursuit, with Swiss rider Stefan Kueng beating Australian Alexander Morgan for bronze. Britain’s Steven Burke failed to make the IP medal finals after posting only the 17th fastest time in qualifying.
Britain’s Owain Doull came home in a highly creditable fifth place behind Irvine in the men’s scratch race – his first senior World Championships appearance.
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British dominate women’s team pursuit
Laura Trott, Dani King and Elinor Barker wrote their own piece of history tonight, winning the last ever women’s team pursuit over three kilometres. Next year the discipline goes up to four riders competing over four kilometres.
Trott was her usual irrepressible self when asked about the new challenge “I don’t think we’ll slow down,” she said. “Obviously its another ‘k’ but we’ll have another person too, so hopefully we can hold something like we’re doing now, just with an extra ‘k’ on the end.”
Tonight’s gold was Trott and King’s third in a row (with an Olympic gold and multiple world records to boot), the pair haven’t lost a team pursuit competition since the Manchester World Cup in 2010 when they rode as a 100% ME team.
Elinor Barker’s debut was perhaps even more impressive. Still at school studying for her A-Levels (although she admitted to having only spent two days at school so far this year) she rode with aplomb, doing two lap-and-a-half turns during the ride.
“The biggest thing for me has just been controlling that first lap,” Barker said. “That’s all I’ve been thinking about the last few days: control that first turn and then the rest of the ride will come.
“They’ve been really good at calming me down, giving me perspective, and taking the pressure off things as well.”
Trott and King will now focus on the road for the rest of the year, but are as enthused as ever about track racing; “No way [is there an Olympic hangover], who wouldn’t want to win another stripey jumper!” Trott said. “It’s been amazing. It hasn’t been a come down at all.”
The gold medal meant Great Britain had won five out of six world titles in this discipline. Australia won silver and Canada the bronze.
Becky James reinforced the fact that there is no shortage of talented young sprinters to fill the void left by Victoria Pendleton by winning her second bronze medal of the championships. James was third in the 500m time trial and was less than two tenths of a second off of winner Wai Sze Lee of Hong Kong.
“I knocked off six tenths of a second [from my personal best], so I’m really happy with that.” James said. “I was really focused before it. I just wanted to get everything out on the track. You can only ever focus on your performance, not anyone else’s. It was quite nice just getting that out of the way.”
Britain’s male sprinters fared less well in the team sprint, qualifying in only sixth place and therefore not getting a second ride. Newcomer to the squad Kian Emadi had a mammoth task of getting on the back of a blistering opening lap from Philip Hindes, and in the end, couldn’t quite do it.
It was an acceleration that Emadi wasn’t used to as Hindes doesn’t hit such speeds in training on Manchester velodrome. Emadi may also have been feeling the effects of last night’s kilometre time trial. Nevertheless, it is the British team’s worst performance since 1998. Last year they were one of the faster teams but were out of the medals after being relegated for their changover.
Women’s team pursuit
Gold medal final
1. Great Britain 3:18.140 bt
2. Australia 3:19.913
3. Canada 3:20.704 bt
4. Poland 3:29.024
Men’s scratch race
1. Martyn Irvine (Ireland)
2. Andreas Muller (Austria)
3. Luke Davison (Aus)
4. Tim Veldt (Ned)
5. Owain Doull (GBr)
Men’s team sprint
Gold medal final
1. Germany 43.495 secs bt
2. New Zealand 43.544 secs
3. France 43.798 secs bt
4. Australia 44.005 secs
Men’s individual pursuit
1. Michael Hepburn (Australia) 4:16.733 bt
2. Martyn Irvine (Ireland) 4:24.528
3. Stefan Kueng (Switzerland) 4:22.841 bt
4. Alexander Morgan (Australia) 4:26.800
Martyn Irvine wins the scratch race
Philip Hindes sets a blistering pace to start Britain’s team sprint
Dani King on the front in the women’s team pursuit
Martyn Irvine in the individual pursuit
Australia in team pursuit
Steven Burke in the individual pursuit – the Brit was 17th fastest in qualifying
King, Trott and Barker top the women’s team pursuit podium
Becky James (right) scores bronze in the women’s 500m time trial
Martyn Irvine celebrates gold in the scratch race and silver in the individual pursuit