ORWELL Wheelers rider Lydia Boylan is set to make history in Paris as part of the first Irish women’s track pursuit team to take part in the UCI World Track Cycling Championships following an incredible baptism to the discipline in the last six months.
They will be the first Irish outfit – of a biggest ever representation from the country – at the Velodrome de Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines as they look to potentially breach the top 10 in the world.
It was with the Dundrum-based club that she first broke into the sport, joining them in 2009 when she was 22 years old and keen to get into cycling on a competitive level.
From her first race, a “three-up time trial” got her hooked straight away. “We crashed going around a corner,” she told GazetteSport. “The time trail itself was the hardest I think I’d ever pushed my body…I definitely wasn’t ‘race fit’ at the time. The crash added a bit of drama but thankfully we all got back up and finished the course. A good rush of adrenaline. I was hooked.”
And she has risen to world class level since then. The track pursuit team came together last September with only Caroline Ryan, a world bronze medallist in 2012, having competed in the discipline before.
But they have quickly emerged to compete at the highest level, qualifying in dramatic fashion in Cali, Colombia last month.
And Boylan says that the team are in the best possible condition to hit their target of a personal best time.
“As a team, and personally, we’ve had the best lead-up than for any of the other races we’ve done this winter.
“So much of the team pursuit is technique and experience. With each race we are getting better and better.”
Along with Ryan, Boylan will be joined by Lauren Creamer, Josie Knight and Melanie Spath from whom a line-up of four will take the track from which the best three times over a 3km distance will count.
The aim is to streamline the team’s efforts as much as possible, lining up in a train to help each rider use their energy as effectively as possible.
As such, it has been a steep learning curve, leading to something of a “rollercoaster” in their early results.
And if they can achieve that target in Paris, it could put them in the frame for potential Olympic qualification.
“The World Championships are our last outing for this season. It’s very important for qualification points for Rio. But all the world cup races next year also count for the Olympics so it’s about keeping fit and hitting next season much stronger and much more experienced than this season.”