Olympic Games: Sparks believes podium is within reach for Irvine
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Saturday, August 4, 2012

Olympic Games: Sparks believes podium is within reach for Irvine

by Shane Stokes at 8:41 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Track, Olympics
Omnium rider is Ireland’s only track competitor

Marytn IrvineMartyn Irvine’s coach has said that he is confident the Irish omnium rider is in top shape and ready to battle for a medal in the London 2012 velodrome.

Former US Olympic coach Andy Sparks has been working with the Ards rider for two years and said that the signs have been promising in the build-up to the Games.

“Martyn is feeling great and he is in a very good, low stress situation to execute an excellent race result at the Games,” he told Velonation late yesterday. “Martyn has smashed most of his training records both in time and in power and he is also coming back from a very successful six day race in Italy where he won the 100K Madison with his Spanish training partner, David Muntaner.

“With the track specific work over the last four weeks and the road block that finished up with the Irish road and time trial nationals, I think we have built Martyn's fitness into what should be a very successful balance of top-end endurance with also the speed and strength component needed to perform well in the track sprint events, the flying lap and Kilo.”

Irvine performed a little quieter than he would have hope this morning, placing ninth out of the eighteen riders in the flying lap. Sparks commented afterwards, saying that the five remaining events gave sufficient opportunity to move right up the standings.

Irvine previously finished fifth in the European championships plus fifth in two rounds of the track World Cup. Looking at the individual rounds of the omnium in the past, he has won the scratch race, pursuit and qualification segments; as Sparks points out, this Games is about trying to put those performances together this weekend.

“Martyn has excelled in each individual component of the omnium at some point this year. He has scored top placings in all events and now we just need to bring those together on the one day,” he said. “We will continue our focus of one race at a time and if he brings everything together on race day a podium is in our sights.”

The Ards rider is 27 years of age but has only been racing internationally on the track since 2009, giving him a steep learning curve. Sparks states that he is impressed by the progress he has made. “It is a great feeling to look back where we started 2 years ago and see the rider Martyn has built himself into. People still cannot believe he is so new to the sport of track cycling,” he said.

“Martyn is the toughest rider I have even worked with and we will look to maximize that strength by making the racing as hard as humanly possible. If we can make the racing a sort of pure-guts kind of race, Martyn will excel. He will be racing hard and making the Irish jersey very proud.”

He is the sole Irish track rider in the Games, and the fourth cyclist. Nicolas Roche, Dan Martin and David McCann took part in the road events.


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