Martyn Irvine will be chasing medals at the Track Cycling World Championships in Minsk on Thursday.
The Newtownards rider, who competed for Ireland in the multi-disciplined omnium at the Olympics last year, will be hoping to follow up his two podium finishes in the World Cup meet in Glasgow last November in the individual pursuit and scratch races.
The two silver medals Irvine won in the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome justified his decision to take a break from the omnium after what had been a gruelling two-year qualification in order to make it to London 2012 where he finished 13th.
“After the Olympics I was miserable. It took me a while to snap out of it and focus on something new,” he said.
“The whole Olympic experience was great but I had one of my worst days on a bike there. It will forever have a bitter taste
“In order to qualify for London the omnium was a necessity. The scratch and pursuit are what I enjoy; I jumped at the chance when it came up.
“The shorter sprinter type races are never going to be my strong point. Winning the medals in Glasgow confirmed that the Olympics were just a bump in the road.
“I am able to compete with the best on my day. It felt great. I was really excited about that weekend.
“It’s the first in over two years that I’d done something without the Omnium in my mind. The lack of stress of the Omnium almost feels enjoyable.”
The qualifying for the 4km individual pursuit takes place this morning and Irvine will need a top four time to make it through to the medal races this evening. The 15km scratch, where first across the line wins, also takes place tonight.
Irvine admits, “Honestly I’m not sure what to expect. I know I have the ability to be standing on the podium but I’ve done some road racing in the build up, which I don’t normally do. I’m hoping it only helps in the pursuit. It should definitely help in the scratch.”
After the Olympics the 27 year-old signed a contract with United Healthcare Pro Cycling road racing team and after today that is where his focus will turn but when the track season returns later in the year his goals will be next year’s World Championships and then the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow when he hopes to add to the bronze medal he won as part of Northern Ireland’s team pursuit in Delhi three years ago.
“The road is where I see myself in the future. I still enjoy track racing so it will be interesting trying to juggle thing,” he added.
“Thanks to UHC pro cycling I have been able to that so far. After the worlds it’s all road. A team has invested in me and I need to prove to them that I am able for it.
“There is a new format of track races starting after the worlds, which should make things a lot more interesting for track specialists. I’ll have some hard decisions to make no doubt.”
Irvine added, “Another Commonwealth Games medal is on my wish list.”