CYCLING: Downey’s world title bid is bang on track

Mark Downey has won his second World Cup gold medal in just over three months.
Mark Downey has won his second World Cup gold medal in just over three months.
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Mark Downey has successfully negotiated another significant leg of his plan for world domination.

The Dromore cyclist earned his second World Cup gold medal last weekend with his eyes firmly fixed on the World title.

Downey secured top spot on the UCI Track Cycling World Cup podium for the second points race in succession in Columbia on Saturday.

The win has sent him to the top of the World Cup ranking in the event and adds to the gold he won in Apeldoorn in November.

Now the 20 year-old is hoping it’s a sign that his preparations for a title tilt at the World Championships in April are bang on track.

“This one means a lot more to me than Apeldoorn in the fashion that I won it,” he said, “but yes – I have a goal, and the plan up to it is going smoothly. All I’m saying is on to the next one.”

The affable and talented rider had to use every ounce of his physical and mental strength to earn the win in the Alcides Nieto Patino Velodrome in Cali.

“It was my first time racing at altitude so I needed to be careful; my pre-race tactic was to chill for 30-40 laps and then to come to the front and turn the gas on,” he said. “I made three key moves in the race – I got away with five riders and took five points in the sprint, then the big guys got away shortly after that and I used the rest of the bunch to bring them back.

“As soon as I got to their back wheel I went, and went hard. It was around 70 laps to go, I picked up two sprints on the way and it took me 23 laps to take the lead – so it was long. The crowd was ecstatic.”

Downey’s challenge didn’t end there as he was made to work to hold on to his advantage.

“After that, I sat back and got my breath back and waited for the final 25 laps of hell. In the last 17 laps, a big group of seven got away, with the second, third and fourth placed riders in it – so I literally did an IP (Individual Pursuit) against seven riders – it was an unbelievable way to hurt everyone and then just have the legs.”

Downey is the latest in a line of international cyclists.

His father Seamus raced in the Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 1984 and in two Commonwealth Games.

Mark’s older brother Sean won a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010 and two years ago retired from a professional career with the An Post Chain Reaction Cycles team.

Now Mark is carrying on the family’s success on the world stage, and who would rule out a top finish come April’s World Championships?