Felix English was frustrated in a brave bid for success at the European Games' scratch race on Thursday, with the Irish track rider pipped at the line for bronze.
“I was convinced I had at least third, and coming over the line a guy came past me with five metres to go,” he said. “I didn’t see him coming.”
Earlier, Ireland's women's team pursuit squad took a fine fifth in the qualifying rounds of the team pursuit, recording a time of four minutes 31.358 seconds. The quartet of Lydia Boylan, Mia Griffin, Lydia Gurley and Orla Walsh now advance to the next round on Friday. They have a chance to fight for a medal, and Cycling Ireland's performance director Brian Nugent believes they can go faster.
“We had a brand new team pursuit [squad] out tonight,” he said. “To be within two seconds of the national record shows so much excitement for the future. Yes, we could have gone maybe one or two seconds quicker if we hadn’t made tiny errors in the last kilometre, but we can iron them out tomorrow. There are two little changes that we can make to knock two seconds off, and we will all be gunning to qualify for the medal ride tomorrow.”
Boylan was also in action in the women’s points race. She started well, winning the second sprint lap, but ultimately finished 11th.
At home, the Irish National Road Championships in Derry got underway late on Thursday with the time-trial events for senior, junior and paracycling competitors. Results were not however available at the time of writing.
The championships will continue with the road race events at the weekend. First off will be the junior men in a five-lap, 101.45km event starting at 10.10am on Saturday. The field includes the top riders in Cycling Ireland rankings: Tom Moriary (O'Leary Stone Kanturk), Matthew Devins (Yeats Country Cycling Club) and Sean Barrett (O'Leary Stone Kanturk), plus others such as Archie Ryan (Zappi's Racing Team).
On Saturday evening the women's road race will take place over the same distance. Defending champion Eve McCrystal (Strata3 VeloRevolution) will be one to watch, and will hope to fare well on the two ascents of Chapel Road plus the Fincairnberg climb. Also aiming high are the 2018 bronze medallist Alice Sharpe (World Cycling Centre), who was 25th in last week's European Games road race in Minsk, 2017 silver medallist Lauren Creamer and others.
On Sunday, the gold and silver medallists from last year, Lara Gillespie (Scott Orwell Wheelers) and Maeve Gallagher (Castlebar CC) should be among the strongest in the 40.58km junior women's road race. That event begins at 8.10am, while the elite and under-23 men's road race will begin at 9.50am.
The 2018 champion Conor Dunne (Israel Cycling Academy) will be hoping that his participation in the Giro d'Italia will give him good form, as will one of the big pre-race favourites, Eddie Dunbar (Team Ineos). Double road race champion Ryan Mullen (Trek-Segafredo), Sam Bennett (Bora-hansgrohe) and Michael O'Loughlin (Team Wiggins) are the other big guns in the event, but others could surprise.