The Irish track cycling team are kicking off their World Championship campaign tomorrow, Wednesday, with Lydia Gurley competing in the Women’s Scratch Race at approximately 12.30 Irish time. Gurley is the only rider in action on the first day of the 2017 UCI Track Cycling World Championships which take place in the Hong Kong Velodrome and run from 12th – 16th April 2017.
Over the five days of racing the six-person Irish team will compete across nine events, concluding with the Men’s Madison on Easter Sunday.
This year Ireland is fielding one of its strongest teams, having won six medals at this level since the beginning of the season in October; three golds, one silver and three bronze medals. The track season included the European Championships and four World Cups, with the final World Cup taking place in LA last February.
Speaking ahead of the championships Cycling Ireland Technical Director Brian Nugent believes that it is a strong team.
“Our preparation couldn’t have been better. We’ve settled in well here, and are really looking forward to getting out there and racing.”
“We’ve come here with a small dedicated team that is strong across the board. We can be competitive in each of the events that we’re racing in. We’ll be pushing for top performances and anything is possible with a team like we have here.”
First on the track for Ireland is Gurley in the Scratch Race on Wednesday, this is an event in which the Galway rider won bronze at the World Cup in Cali last February.
On Thursday Felix English will be the sole rider flying the flag for Ireland, competing in the Scratch Race. English has won gold and silver in the Madison with Mark Downey this year, and has come close to the podium in this event on several occasions.
Over the weekend all eyes will be on Mark Downey in the Points Race which takes place on Friday; it’s an event in which he has been unbeaten since the World Cup in Apeldoorn last November. Lydia Boylan is also in action on Friday, competing in the newly formatted Omnium. Boylan and Gurley team up for the Madison on the following day, Easter Saturday, when European Bronze Medallist, Anna Turvey, will be testing her speed in the Individual Pursuit.
Sunday will see Rio Olympian Shannon McCurley compete in the Keirin, with Downey and English closing the World Championships race programme with the Madison, an event in which they won gold at the last World Cup in Los Angeles.
The competition takes place in Hong Kong, with the seven hour time difference ensuring the finals will be occurring no later than 3.30pm Irish time.