By Shane Stokes
Following their participation in the Manchester World Cup at the weekend, David O'Loughlin and Dermot Nally look set to become the first Irish riders in many years to line up on the world track championships.
O'Loughlin had previously qualified for the individual pursuit, placing fifth in the Los Angeles round of the series, but is now expected to also go in the points race in Palma, Mallorca next month. Cycling Ireland's high performance manager Frank Campbell says that he has been told that Ireland will be able to take part in three events, and so Nally will also travel to the Spanish island to compete.
"David got 12th in the points race so that got him more UCI points," said Campbell on Monday of this week. "We are waiting on written confirmation which is due to come out this week, but I spoke to the UCI yesterday and they are happy enough that we will get a likely invite into three events.
"With David already qualified for the individual pursuit, we will look at the points race for him to do as well. As regards the third slot, we will probably put Dermot Nally into the scratch race. Dermot is living in Spain and he was already planning to go over to Majorca and help David prepare in the lead up to the event, rather than him having to try to prepare on the track on his own."
Navigators Insurance professional O'Loughlin took up the individual pursuit last September and broke the long-standing Irish record on his first attempt when he recorded a time of 4 minutes 29.9 seconds. He was considerably quicker than this time in training prior to Manchester but during the race itself he, somewhat inexplicably, did a 4 minute 30.12 seconds qualifier en route to eighth place.
"To be honest, we are not sure why it was slower because the whole way through Newport and doing trials in Manchester, he was taking five seconds off the time of his national record in every training session he did," said Campbell. "He was doing 4 minute 25 second efforts so that is why I was so sure that is what he was going to be doing [in the World Cup].
"We can't work out whether it is something we are doing in the warm-up, whether it is something we are doing in the lead up in the morning, if we are working him too hard. These are all things that we can only learn as we go along."
Had he been able to replicate that speed in competition, O'Loughlin would have been two or three places better than his final finishing position of eighth. 2004 world champion and Olympic bronze medallist Sergi Escobar (Spain) recorded a time of 4 minutes 25.392 seconds en route to fifth in Manchester, while Daniel Becke (Germany) finished with 4 minutes 26.716 seconds in sixth.
"If he had done it in the race, that would have put him inside the top six," said Campbell. "You can measure him against the other riders and it is very frustrating, especially for him. He has taken such big chunks out of it [in training].
"We spoke at length this morning about how we move the thing forward. We need the expertise in coaching we don't really have track coaches at the moment. The guy who has been left lumbered with the whole thing is young Brian Nugent. He is trying the very best to work with his knowledge. The thing is that we have moved into world level very, very quickly and we need to learn more."