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MORE CYCLING : Track Racing Last Updated: Apr 15, 2017 - 6:26:17 PM

Report on First Days of Track Worlds in Hong Kong
By Heather Boyle, Communications Officer
Apr 13, 2017,

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Frustration for Felix in Scratch Race at Worlds

Felix English has finished 19th in the Scratch Race at the 2017 UCI Track Cycling World Championships today. The twenty-five-year-old was the sole Irish rider in action on the second day of competition in the Hong Kong Velodrome at the Worlds which run from 12th – 16th April 2017. In a frustrating race where all his attacks were neutralised, English finished in the bunch with the medals going to Adrian Teklinski (POL), Lucas Liss (GER) and Christopher Latham (GB).

English animated the race, establishing himself in five significant moves throughout the 60 lap, 15km bunch race. Unfortunately for English, one of the strongest riders in the race, the fast pace saw each move being reeled back, and no rider lapping the field.

Frustrated with the result English said – “It was quite an easy race, and I was trying to get away, but nobody was working. I kept trying to follow moves; you see a small gap, then work hard but people wouldn’t work with me. Even when it would come back, normally there are counter attacks, but this didn’t happen.”

With eight laps to go Joao Matias of Portugal attacked, which prompted eventual winner Teklinski to chase. The Polish rider passed Matias and quickly gained half a lap. Liss (Germany) chased with five laps remaining, and Statham won a sprint finish for bronze.

English described Teklinski’s attack saying – “He came from quite far back so had a lot of speed. It was at a point where a lot of people were stalling and starting to think about the sprint, so we weren’t ready for him, and I wasn’t in a position to go with him. I should have gone when the German rider went, I should have just attacked with five laps to go, but didn’t. Then when GB came over the top I knew the race was over. In my heart I wanted to win it.”

In the Scratch Race tactics come into play and in many cases the race doesn’t allow for each rider’s plan to materialise – “I went into the race looking to save energy in the first twenty laps, to make sure I was in the moves for the second twenty and then in the final twenty laps the plan was to be aggressive. It was just a fast race then, with nobody getting away, and I lost a bit of heart when the Polish guy got away; I went into it to win it.”

English races again on Sunday in the Madison with Mark Downey, a race in which they won gold and silver at the last two World Cups – “I’m looking forward to a race that is more strength based, where we can show what we can do. In training, we are doing the fastest times we have ever done on the track. I like working in a team with Mark, it’s extra nice when there’s success.”

“In the Madison, you don’t have the choice to hesitate, we push each other on; I have to push it because that’s what Mark is doing too. While I’d love to have won today, if I had the choice of a rainbow jersey in the Scratch Race or the Madison, I’d choose the Madison, especially after the way we rode the last two events.”

Tomorrow Lydia Boylan will be in action throughout the day in the newly structured Omnium event – with four events in one day. At 12 noon, Irish time Mark Downey will be competing in the Points Race, an event in which the twenty-year-old from Dromore excels, having already won two silvers in previous Junior and U23 European Championships, and two golds from the World Cups this season.

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.

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.

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Lydia Gurley Makes World Championship Debut with 15th Place

Lydia Gurley kicked off the Irish World Championship campaign today finishing 15th in the Scratch Race. Gurley was the sole Irish rider in action today, competing in the 2017 UCI Track Cycling World Championships which take place in the Hong Kong Velodrome and run from 12th – 16th April 2017. The gold medals went to Italy’s Rachele Barbieri, with Elinor Barker (GB) and Jolien d’Hoore (Belgium) taking silver and bronze.

The Scratch Race is a 40 lap or 10km bunch race, with the medals being awarded to the first three over the line. This results in tactical aggressive racing, with the more endurance based riders keen to lap the field to optimise their chances of a podium place. During the first half of the race the bunch remained together, with no breaks sticking until Sarah Hammer (USA) launched a blistering attack with 23 laps to go, and was joined by five riders who went on to lap the field.

Gurley was disappointed to miss the break, having launched a significant chase with Ukraine’s Tetyana Klimchenko – “I was a bit disappointed after the race, as I was strong, and comfortable in the race. I missed the main group after slightly hesitating, so the chase with the Ukraine rider was a key moment for me. Usually with two riders chasing you work well together, but she kept forcing me up the track, pulling up at bad points, so we eventually lost the gap we formed. It’s just one of those things; I gave it a go, it didn’t work out, I’ll accept it and move on.”

Making her World Championship debut Gurley was the first Irish to compete, and is looking forward to the rest of the competition – “it was my first World Champs, and I had to settle my own nerves before the race, which I managed to do and was strong and comfortable in the group. I’m glad to have this one in the bag and now I can move on and look forward to the next races.”

“World Championships are like World Cups, but with more pressure. Every time you race there is an opportunity to win the rainbow jersey, so the competition is harder and the racing is harder. There’s more at stake, but you expect that.”

The Irish Team have been performing strongly in this track season across all categories, and Gurley reflects on the positivity in the team – “I have two more races in the Championships, and I’m feeling confident after today. We have all worked really hard, and I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of them racing too, we have a great team.

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.

On Thursday Felix English will be the sole rider flying the flag for Ireland, competing in the Scratch Race, an event in which he has come close to the podium on many occasions in the past year.

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.


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