In cycling action at the European Games on Saturday, Shannon McCurley competed in the Women’s Omnium, Robyn Stewart in the Sprint, and Mark Downey and Fintan Ryan in the Men’s Madison.
McCurley was 8th in the four-race event which was won by the Netherlands multiple world champion Kirsten Wild. McCurley, the first Irish female track cyclist to compete at the Olympics when she raced the Women’s Keirin in Rio, has since switched her focus to endurance events, changing her physique and now mixing with the best endurance riders in the world.
Endurance is certainly the name of the game for the Omnium, which is a four race event, with points awarded to riders according to their finish position, and the overall winner is decided at the end of the final Points Race. Speaking after an aggressive finale, the Australian-based cyclist said:
“It was a really rough race, a bit different to what I’m used to. I’m used to really sprinting it out, and this was a very tactical race. I’m used to really sprinting it out, and it was a very tactical race. My plan was to go in and be aggressive, it was something I couldn’t do last year, so I leaned up and got a lot fitter since the world championships. I came in wanting a medal, but things didn’t go my way, I’m still getting there.”
In the Men’s Madison, the newly formed pairing of Mark Downey and Fintan Ryan finished in 8th position with 18 points. The Madison is a 200 lap race with two riders on a team, each taking turns to race, slinging each other into action. Every ten laps there is a sprint lap where points are awarded for the first four over the line.
Downey and Ryan started well, placing in the top five early on and holding position by gaining crucial points on sprint laps throughout. With 45 laps to go it was looking good for the Irish riders as they sat in podium position. An aggressive finish from the remainder of the field however pushed them back to 8th place at the end of the 50km race.
Speaking after the race, Mark Downey said:
“That was a really positive start to the race. Something we always lacked is coming into the race super early. And we made the plan for the first ninety laps, we really wanted to take (the race) by the scruff of the neck, and we did that.”
Meanwhile, Robyn Stewart’s Sprint campaign was ended by Italian Miriam Vece in the 1/32 Match Sprint Repechages, with Vece taking control of the race from the start, outsprinting the Belfast sprinter on the line.
Women’s Omnium: Shannon McCurley 8th overall after 4 races.
Gold Kirsten Wild (NED)
Silver Evgeniia Augustinas (RUS)
Bronze Elisa Balsamo (ITA)
Men’s Madison: Mark Downey and Fintan Ryan in 8th place