Minsk, Belarus – Competing for his home country of Ireland, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team rider, Martyn Irvine, achieved what no other Irishman had in 117 years, when he won not one, but two medals at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Minsk, Belarus, on Thursday, February 21, 2013.
After earning a silver medal in the individual pursuit, Irvine (pictured above in photo with teammate Philip Deignan, courtesy Jonathan Devich epicimages.us) followed up his 2nd place effort with a gold medal-winning encore in the 15km scratch race, becoming the first Irishman to win a track gold medal since 1896, when Harry Reynolds won the world mile championship in Copenhagen. Irvine’s accomplishment also marks the first time a member of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team (or any rider racing for the 11 year-old Momentum Sports Group, the owner and operator of Team UnitedHealthcare) has won a world championship.
In a post-race interview with The Telegraph’s Brendan Gallagher, a delighted Irvine said, “I can’t believe I did that. I gave it everything in the individual pursuit and my legs felt absolutely hollow before the start of the scratch. I went with about 12 laps to go because I started to feel good, but I could sense a shadow on my shoulder for the last two laps. I didn’t know if I could hold off Andreas Müller the Austrian guy.”
Ultimately, Irvine was able to hold Müller off and the all-arounder who finished 7th in the world championship omnium last year, found himself atop the podium and a world champion.
Commenting on the significance of Irvine’s feat, Team UnitedHealthcare’s General Manager and Team Director, Mike Tamayo, was effusive in his praise of the newly crowned World Champion from Ireland, saying, “Not many riders try to compete in multiple track events in the same day. It is very taxing on the body and mind to be that focused, but Martyn did it and did it very well. He qualified second in the morning in the individual pursuit, then four hours later, won silver in the final. Then, 90 minutes later, he goes and wins the scratch race! Simply put, a fantastic effort and great results!”
“Being a world champion is joining a club that consists of an elite few people. There are not many people who can say they earned the right to wear the rainbow stripes. Many chase it for years and never come close,” Tamayo continued.
Irvine has raced for the U.S. based Pro Continental outfit once already this year, earlier this month in France at Etoile de Besseges. He was brought onto the UnitedHealthcare Team for his power, which he showed earlier today is amongst the best in the world. The Team plans on Irvine being an instrumental part of its lead out this season and with his track season ending today in grand fashion, Irvine will shift his focus back to the road where he will be able to put his massive engine to work at the end of races.
“I spotted Martyn in Mallorca, Spain, before the London Olympics,” Tamayo said. “His coach, Andy Sparks, kept telling me about this great rider he was training. When Hendrik (Redant) and I were in Spain, we got a chance to see his training session and work ethic. We knew immediately that a rider with this amount of determination could win and that the transition to the road would be a challenge at first but one that could be tackled quickly.”
Sparks, who has been Irvine’s coach for many years including his Olympic run, also coaches Track World Champion, Sarah Hammer (USA) who won the women’s individual pursuit at this year’s World Championships.