Martyn Irvine’s crazy year continued at the weekend as he took gold in the points race final at the Track Cycling World Cup in Manchester.
It was another tremendously gutsy performance from the Newtownards rider who clinched Ireland’s first gold medal at an UCI World Cup meeting.
Irvine had previously taken won two silvers in Glasgow last November but that would only be a prelude to 2013 that has seen Irvine win the world title in the scratch race and silver in the pursuit at the World Championships in Minsk in February.
However, a month later a crash in Taiwan saw him break his hip and he has spent the past six months battling back with the help of the Sports Institute of Northern Ireland and just two weeks ago, back in the saddle, he took a bronze in the omnium at the European Track Championships.
“I’ve said it before, it will make a good book some day. You couldn’t script what has happened to me this year and obviously there’s part of it I wouldn’t want to repeat but it’s been incredible. I’m not the kind of man who gets a lot from being the first man to do this or do that. I get my buzz from winning a hard race and the respect I get for doing that,” explained Irvine after his latest triumph.
Irvine’s weekend hadn’t started promisingly as he managed only seventh in the individual pursuit on Saturday afternoon but decided, with only a fifteen minute break, to take part in the heats of the points race.
“I hadn’t trained enough for the pursuit and it was an average time but I decided to hedge my bets and entered the points race. Luckily I was in the second of the two heats but honestly I suffered a lot and was lucky to qualify, I was the last man to make it to the final. After that it was all about recovery and getting ready for the final.”
In the points race final, Irvine looked like he was struggling early on and almost got cast adrift by the rest of the field but with just over 30 laps to go Irvine made his move, and took the remainder of the points by holding on to win the final sprint and in doing so saw off the challenge of Denmark’s Lasse Norman Hansen, with the Olympic omnium champion taking silver and Elia Viviani of Italy winning the bronze.
“I rode smart for the first half of the race, I didn’t want to race too much, but then I started to use my head. I looked around and other guys were grimacing more than me. I rolled off the front and got in the groove. A Spanish guy came across to me and we committed. It was all or nothing.”
Irvine added, “It’s about awareness generally. I was lucky not to lose a lap and I had to do a bit of riding to get the group back and after that it was all about staying near the front. I knew what I had to do and that the last lap was crucial.
“It was actually the perfect race, even though it didn’t look like it.”