Martyn Irvine video interview: World scratch champion psyched by contract renewal, Giro d’Italia start in Ireland
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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Martyn Irvine video interview: World scratch champion psyched by contract renewal, Giro d’Italia start in Ireland

by Shane Stokes at 6:00 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Giro d'Italia, Video
Recovered from fracture, a repeat rainbow jersey is next big goal

Martyn IrvineHaving won a track world title and then suffered a fractured proximal femur one month later, Martyn Irvine had a real rollercoaster in 2013. Four weeks after becoming the first Irish world track champion in 117 years, he found himself in agony on the road in Taiwan, clipping a road bollard and being sent clattering to the ground.

The injury occurred on March 21st and meant that his debut with the UnitedHealthcare team had ended almost before it started.

Irvine had an operation to put a pin in his femur and then worked hard to return to competition in August, but didn’t know until recently if his one year deal with the American team would be extended.

Fortunately that is the case, with general manger Mike Tamayo confirming to VeloNation at yesterday’s route presentation of the Giro d’Italia that Irvine would indeed be involved again in 2014.

It’s a good gesture by the team, showing that they have faith in Irvine. It’s also a practical one, as it is looking to secure a wildcard entry to the Giro d’Italia. Having a rider who comes from Newtownards, less than twenty kilometres from the Grande Partenza starting point of Belfast, boosts the team’s prospects of selection.

Irvine is delighted to remain on board. “It was good, it is awesome. It is a relief as well,” he told VeloNation. “I was pretty useless this year on the bike, for obvious reasons, so it is good to get a chance again with the team. They really stood by me. So it is good.”

Irvine is known for being self deprecating, and so his dismissal of himself as useless should be viewed in that context. Granted, he took no road results of note, but that can be explained by a crash at the start of the road season which put him out for months.

Before then, though, he earned the team its first ever rainbow jersey with an impressive performance in Minsk, and so Irvine had already clocked up a valuable result for the squad.

“I was world champion for four weeks to the day. It was pretty quick,” he said, speaking of the rollercoaster ride he endured in going from the high of gold and silver at the track worlds to a hospital bed. “A slap of reality, I keep saying. It made me see there was more to life than cycling…but I love cycling. So it was a hard few months there, I was pretty low.”

Irvine returned to international competition in the Volta a Portugal and while he didn’t finish there, he continued to build form. He recently competed in the Three Days of Aigle track meet and finished third in the ominum, winning the scratch round, and was also fourth in the earlier stand-alone scratch race.

“I won a race…the power is there. It is a relief coming on the back of the year I had, because when you break your leg, you think ‘will I ever walk again?’ and all this crazy stuff. So it was nice to get back to a decent level,” he said. “It was a bit of weight off my shoulders.”

Irvine speaks about remaining with the team and his return to racing in the video below. He also talks about a busy schedule in the months ahead, plus his determination to try to take another world title. “I like the scratch race now. I have settled into this,” he said. “I know how to ride the race now and it suits me. I would love to go and back it up [with a second win – ed.]…it would be great.”

An equally big priority is to avoid accidents and to be able to prove his value to the team. “I am looking for more highs now, no more lows,” he said.

Irvine also spoke to VeloNation again after the presentation of the Giro d’Italia route. Asked for his initial reaction, he smiled and said ‘scared,’ joking about the severity of the mountain stages.

He is hoping that his team is given a place in the race and that he can line out as part of the squad, competing on some very familiar roads.

“It looks good, it is as close as home as I will ever get. It passes both doorsteps…from where I was young until where I live now. So it is going to be unbelievable.”

The first three stages of the race are mainly flat and if he and the squad are there, Irvine should be of big assistance to the UnitedHealthcare campaign. His team pursuit and general track racing experience will boost the squad’s performance in the team time trial, while his speed will be important in trying to help the designated sprinter to scrap it out with the WorldTour fastmen.

He knows that whatever Irish riders compete in the race will get huge support from the crowds. Cycling is a growing sport in Ireland, but should experience a bigger surge in popularity as a result of the second biggest stage race in cycling starting there.

“They don’t know what is coming,” he said, speaking of the general public. “It is going to be massive. People think bikes are how you get to work, or what holds you up in traffic. So it is going to be awesome when they see how cool bike racing is…”


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