By Ronan Gaine
Ringsend cyclist Lydia Boylan lapped the field to land an incredible silver medal from the women’s points race at the 2019 UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Poland last Sunday.
It crowned a super weekend for the Irish team. Boylan had already helped Ireland to a great ninth place finish in Saturday’s Womens Maddison with Shannon McCurley and lined up going even better in Sunday’s points race.
Boylan won the third sprint in the 25km race. Then, with less than ten laps to go, she attacked. She joined the back of the bunch, and gained a crucial lap on her rivals, putting her in the gold medal position with five laps remaining.
Digging deep for the final sprint, she hung on to win an incredible silver medal, finishing on 28 points, just a point and a place behind winner, Alexandra Manly of Australia and two points clear of bronze medal winner, Kirsten Wild of the Netherlands.
“It still hasn’t sunk in that I’ve finally done something on the world stage. It’s a big boost of confidence for me, for sure,” she said.
“That sort of racing suits me, because I know I can just dig deeper – we push ourselves so hard in training.”
The 31-year-old has increased her focus on track racing in order to target a place at next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Her past results include three victories in the Irish Road Race Championships, as well as a silver medal in the Madison event at the European Track Championships. However, her silver medal in Poland is her best finish yet.
“I kept taking a sneaky look up at the leaderboard and I knew I needed to move up,” she said, speaking of the battle for the gold medal. “I moved up and I gave it my best, but the legs fell off a bit in the last couple of laps.”
She added: “I’d been struggling to position myself for the sprints and getting caught out, then I was trying to force the lap too much but I just went at the right time and thankfully the Russian (Gulnaz Badykova) joined me or I would have been pretty cooked out there on my own. I took the lap too late to have something left for the final sprint but a silver medal is amazing.”
Boylan’s silver, to go along with the bronze medal won by teammate Mark Downey on Friday, turned it into an outstanding week for the Irish in Pruszkow.
These were the first medals Ireland has won at the World Championships since Martyn Irvine’s scratch race silver in 2014.
“Mark’s medal definitely gave us a boost,” Boylan said.
“I’ve been training with Mark for a long time and I always joke he’s my derny (the motorised lead-out bike used in some events).
“It’s absolutely incredible for two of us to be going home with a medal.”