Cycling: Downey biding his time as he eyes future goals
Plan is to peak for the World Championships in three months’ time
Mark Downey celebrating a victory in Cali, Colombia last year. “I’m confident that I’ve chosen the right move team-wise, and am very motivated to get back racing. Photograph: Luis Robayo/AFP/Getty
Highly impressive a year ago in track racing, Mark Downey has opted for a more steady build-up in the current season in order to peak for the World Championships in just under three months’ time.
In November 2016 he won the points race in the Apeldoorn World Cup in November, then took the same event in Cali, Colombia in February.
His performances saw him secure overall victory in the World Cup standings for that event, a superb feat. In addition to that he and racing partner Felix English won gold in the Madison event in Los Angeles and silver in Cali. They went on to net sixth in the event in the track World Championships.
Downey has been a little quieter than that in recent World Cup meets, but he’s fine with that.
“The plan this winter for myself was to race and score solid points, ensuring my place at the World Championships would be safe. And I’ve done that,” he told The Irish Times this week.
“Obviously last year was a year to remember on the track but it’s sport; you can’t be at the top of your game every race. It’s been a big focus for me ever since I crossed the finish line at the world champs the start of this year in Hong Kong. Obviously it didn’t go to my plan so hopefully I can go back more experienced and with a lot more hunger to put things right this time around.”
Downey recently took a break from training and racing. He is currently in Mallorca, and will work on his endurance there until Christmas. He said that his plan is to build gradually, then really knuckle down in January.
“That will mean a lot more specific work and intensity, so it’s nice to not have any massive stress at the minute.
“In January myself and Felix will try ride another six day, or possibly two, depending on how it fits with our worlds preparation. This winter for me personally has been quieter with regarding the Olympic process starting August to September of next year. It’s nice to not have a crazy winter after a busy year of 76 race days this season.
“Next year will be crazy going to most of the World Cups to ensure we make it to 2020 so it’s nice to have a breather to prepare for next season.”
As regards road racing, he believes he made the transition between track and road too soon last spring and, as a result, was tired during the year. While he finished a fine ninth in the U-23 World Road Race Championships and took three top-ten stage finishes in the Tour de l’Avenir, he wasn’t satisfied with his season.
He said this week he will compete with an as-yet unnamed continental team in 2018, with taking his first pro win a big goal.
“2018 is an important year as it’s my last year under-23. But I’m confident that I’ve chosen the right move team-wise, and am very motivated to get back racing.”