It was a hugely successful outing for Team Ireland at the 2021 UCI Track Cycling Nations Cup in St. Petersburg. The Cycling Ireland team took home two gold medals, two bronze medals and saw two National records fall in what was an epic few days of racing.
It was Ireland’s Team Pursuit of Lara Gillespie, Mia Griffin, Kelly Murphy and Alice Sharpe who got proceedings underway. The squad made it through qualifying with the fastest time of 4:24.475. They were 4.8 seconds faster than their nearest rivals Russia. In the following round, the squad comfortably dispatched of Belarus to set up a final against Russia.
In the fight for gold, Russia got off to the quicker start. At the half-way point Russia took a narrow lead of around a second after the first 2000M. Ireland however pulled it back and the final 1000M sprint saw them cross over first with a time of 4:21:411, compared to Russia’s 4:23:276. It was gold for Ireland and marginally off a new National record which was set at the World Championship in Berlin last year.
In the individual pursuit, Kelly Murphy secured Ireland’s second gold medal of the Nations Cup. Murphy who won the Irish National Time Trials in 2018 and 2019, won gold as she beat Russia’s Alena Ivanchenko in the final by over two and a half seconds. Mia Griffin competed in the bronze-final and dominated her race against Mariia Miliaeva, with a winning time of 3:37.075 – over seven seconds faster than her opponent.
Kelly Murphy also set a new National record in qualifying with a time of 3:29.510. The record she broke was her own that she set at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Berlin last year.
Incredible performances by Kelly Murphy and Mia Griffin in the Individual Pursuit at the Track Nations Cup this morning🙌🏻— Cycling Ireland (@CyclingIreland) July 10, 2021
Kelly Murphy will be racing for Gold this evening after clocking the fastest time 🔥
Mia Griffin is in the ride off for Bronze 🙌🏻#TissotNationsCup pic.twitter.com/KkC5clUOLT
There was another National record broken, with Orla Walsh setting a new 500M Time-Trial record of 35.103 in the qualifying round. Walsh finished fifth overall.
Lara Gillespie who was part of the Team Pusuit squad who won gold, secured a bronze medal in the in the four-event Omnium. Gillespie placed fifth in the opening scratch race, finished second in the tempo race, eighth in the elimination race and fourth in the points race.
The UCI Track Cycling Nations Cup hold significance as Ireland’s participation and performances in Russia contribute to qualification for the upcoming 2021 Track Cycling World Championship.