By Shane Stokes
Cycling Ireland’s High Performance manager Frank Campbell has said that he is encouraged by the showing some of the country’s top riders have made during the CI track tryout in Belgium this week. The trial was carried out in order to see if the riders had the interest and potential to chase Olympic qualification on the boards.
Professionals David O’Loughlin, Mark Scanlon, Nicolas Roche, Ciarán Power plus international riders Ryan Connor, Dermot Nally, Paul Healion, Ray Clarke, Michael Murray and Miceal Concannon have all been riding in Ghent and, according to Campbell, the signs are good.
"Things have been going very well," he said this week. "We have been running the riders through some basic track skills, then went on to do pursuiting, team pursuiting, some points races and time trials. They did some test times this morning which were quite encouraging. All of them, and particularly Scanlon, Power and Roche, looked like they could transfer their road ability over."
Campbell said that David O’Loughlin was also riding very strongly. He impressed greatly two weeks ago when he won the two kilometre roadman’s pursuit at the Revolution track series, beating Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins, former world champ Bradley McGee and Tour de France and Tour of Spain stage winner David Millar.
"He is quite a bit ahead of the others because of his track skills and because he has ridden pursuit before," said Campbell. "He is trying to get back to the shape he was in just after the World's, when he went for the Irish record, and with final clearance from the board we will be sending him to Moscow in December to do the pursuit out there. David will spend some time again in Newport with the track coach Brian [Nugent] beforehand, then fly over to the world cup."
Irish road race champion David McCann was also due to travel but ended up missing the trip due to an operation to remove his tonsils.
The riders wound up the three-day trip on Thursday by getting physiological tests done by doctor Dag van Elslande, who works with the Discovery Channel pro team. Campbell said that another session is planned for later this month, and that all of the riders present this week indicated an interest in doing more track work in the future.
"It was all looking very good," he concluded. "We will sit down and look at the figures afterwards with Brian Nugent, who has been over here coaching with us, and we will compare them to some of the other standards. But I definitely think it has been a worthwhile exercise for us."