Irish rider David O'Loughlin moved a step closer to his goal of riding the Olympic track pursuit in Beijing when he smashed the Irish record for the 4000 metre pursuit in the Newport Velodrome, Wales on Friday.
The Navigators Insurance professional set a time of 4'29.9, going significantly faster than the previous record of 4'35, as set by former international Phil Collins at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Despite having little track racing experience, the former double Irish road race champion achieved a time which would have qualified him eleventh of the 21 entrants in the world championships which took place in France earlier this year. He feels he can go quicker again.
"I am pretty pleased with how it went," he said. "It is the first time I have ever done a pursuit attempt, although I have done some training for it lately. I was a bit unsure as to what to expect. I felt really good, and probably could have gone a couple of seconds faster if I pushed it. But I stuck to the schedule and it worked out well.
"This is the first one I did but the track is probably not the fastest out there. I didn't have a front disk on either, so think with some more practice, I can go quicker again.
He has a set plan as to the next step. "I am getting married next week and will then go on honeymoon. After that, I'd like to spend a bit of time in Newport over the winter, then plan to ride two world cups in January and February. I hope to ride well there and qualify for the world championships.
"I'm definitely interested in going to the Games. The amount of time I can put into it depends on what my team wants from me on the road next year, though. We will have to see how it goes."
Irish Olympic manager Frank Campbell is considering putting together a team pursuit squad for the Beijing Games. O'Loughlin's Navigators Insurance professional team-mate Ciarán Power also did a 4000 metre test in the velodrome today, but feels that his track ambitions are likely to be channeled in another area.
"I did the pursuit but think it doesn't suit me too well," he said. "This week was my first time ever on the track and first time using a fixed wheel, but it is enjoyable all right. I'd like to come back and try out the points race at some point; that might be good."
As regards the road side of things, both riders are currently finalising their plans for next year. Power has already confirmed he will re-sign for Navigators, and expects to confirm terms with manager Ed Beamon in the next few days. O'Loughlin has yet to indicate where he will be racing.