Martyn Irvine grabbed what is only Ireland’s second World Championship track title in history with a scintillating display in the velodrome in Minsk, Belarus.
The 27-year-old rider from Newtownards attacked 10 laps from the end of the 60 lap, 15 kilometre scratch race, got a gap and then held off those chasing frantically behind.
He hit the line ahead of Andreas Mueller (Austria) and the Australian Luke Davison, ending up best out of 23 of the world’s top track riders for the discipline.
“I just feel disbelief,” he admitted an hour afterwards to The Irish Times. “It just hasn’t hit me yet. I am just sitting here laughing and chuckling about it . . . this doesn’t happen to me, it is kind of a dream, you never really expect things like that to happen.”
While Irvine’s ride was spectacular in itself, and had many of the crowd in the velodrome on their feet as he tried to hold off the hard-chasing bunch behind, it was even more impressive considering he had taken silver in the individual pursuit less than an hour beforehand.
He had finished second to the defending champion Michael Hepburn (Australia) yesterday morning, beating his own personal best by over two and a half seconds and setting a new national record of four minutes 20.260 for the 4,000 metres.
That guaranteed him a place in the two-man final, making gold or silver a certainty. He raced for the former but had to be satisfied with the latter.
That made his world championship title all the more spectacular, as he was undoubtedly more fatigued that the other riders in the scratch race.
“After the pursuit final, I was just wrecked. It just hit me how hard it was. I couldn’t do a good time, I had completely hollow legs. It was something like 40 minutes before I was up again for the scratch race, and I went into it thinking that it was going to hurt. I could imagine myself pulling off the track.”
Instead, having played things cagey for 50 laps, he gunned it two and half kilometres from the finish and opened up what was a decisive gap.
Mueller chased hard to try to overhaul him before the end, but Irvine kicked again and held him off for victory.
Irvine is a rider who has worked very hard in recent years and now has something big to be proud of.
- Seven Irish titles on road and track
- 13th in the Omnium at London 2012
- Signed for US road Cycling team UnitedHealthcare in 2013
- Coached by Andy Sparks, the husband and coach of US rider Sarah Hammer who won individual pursuit gold for the fifth time on Thursday.