Ryan Mullen in hunt for bronze at debut World Championships

Nineteen-year-old was fourth quickest in qualifying in the 4,000 metre event in Cali

The Australian team competes to win gold medal in the Men’s Team Pursuit final race at the 2014 UCI Track Cycling World Championships in   February.  Photograph: Jose Miguel Gomez/Reuters

The Australian team competes to win gold medal in the Men’s Team Pursuit final race at the 2014 UCI Track Cycling World Championships in February. Photograph: Jose Miguel Gomez/Reuters

Fri, Feb 28, 2014, 01:00

Riding his first ever senior world track championships, Ryan Mullen underlined his talent yesterday with style when he qualified for the bronze medal final in the individual pursuit event at the world track championships in Colombia.

Shrugging off the pressure, the 19-year-old was fourth quickest in qualifying in the 4,000 metre event in Cali. He completed the distance in a time of four minutes 11.419 seconds. It was less than a second and a half off the fastest time, set by the Australian competitor Alexander Edmondson.

Third place went to New Zealand’s Marc Ryan, who was just over half a second faster than Mullen. The duo were set to fight for the bronze medal in the finals, held after midnight Irish time.

Super debut
Cycling Ireland’s coach Brian Nugent described the ride as a super debut. “He rode really strongly and held on well. It will be a great final.”

Mullen can take encouragement from the fact that with correct pacing, a faster time will be possible. He was quickest of all of the 20 competitors at the first two time checks, but faded towards the end. By starting slightly slower in the final he should be able to better maintain his pace and improve his chances of bronze.

The An Post Chainreaction Sean Kelly rider is the Irish under-23 time-trial champion. He picked up two bronze medals in the European under-23 track championships last July, netting third in both the scratch race and the individual pursuit. He then went on to take seventh in the world under-23 championships in September and afterwards dominated the under-23 Chrono des Nations event, beating the next rider by over a minute.

Meanwhile Ireland’s second competitor in the race, Martyn Irvine, was unable to replicate the pace which earned him a silver medal last year. He had to be content with 12th but was hoping for a much better showing in the scratch race, also held after midnight Irish time.

Last year he became Ireland’s first world track champion in 117 years and while he broke his leg one month later and faced a long period of time off the bike, he made a good return to form last autumn. After racing for what he hopes will be another medal, he will also compete in the 40km men’s points race today.

Frustrating
Caroline Ryan went frustratingly close to a silver medal in the women’s scratch race on Wednesday, attacking with the winner Kelly Druyts (Belgium) in the closing laps. Ryan appeared to momentarily go a little too deep in driving the pace and lost the wheel of her rival, drifting backwards and being overhauled by the others on the final bend.

She placed 14th but was very close to improving on the bronze medal she took in the points race in 2012. She will chase success in the individual pursuit today and in the points race tomorrow.

Elsewhere, Irish road race champion Matt Brammeier got his season off to a fine start yesterday when he went close to victory on the first stage of the Tour de Langkawi. He was in a breakaway which went all the way to the finish, but suffered cramp and had to be satisfied with second place.

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