Double medal success for Irvine

  • Last Updated: February 21 2013, 20:34 GMT

Martyn Irvine capped a day of delight for Irish cycling with a gold and a silver medal within an hour at the Track Cycling World Championships in Minsk.

Martyn Irvine: Two gold medals
Martyn Irvine: Two gold medals

On the day it was confirmed the 2014 Giro d'Italia will start in Belfast, the 27-year-old from Newtownards won the men's scratch race, just minutes after claiming silver in the men's individual pursuit.

"I'm not sure it's hit me yet. I don't know what to say," Irvine said.

"I just can't believe I'm standing here with a rainbow jersey."

Irvine's win was Ireland's first gold medal in modern World Championships - Henry Reynolds did win a gold in 1896 - and came after Caroline Ryan won the first medal last April, with points race bronze at the 2012 World Championships in Melbourne.

Both of Irvine's successes came in non-Olympic events; he was 13th in the multi-discipline omnium at London 2012.

Irvine qualified in second place this afternoon in the four-kilometre individual pursuit and finished the final in four minutes 24.528 seconds as Australia's Michael Hepburn successfully defended his title, clocking 4mins 16.733secs.

Irvine had time to receive his medal on the podium, change his race numbers and return to the bike for the 60-lap (15km) scratch race.

With 10 laps to go, he accelerated clear of the field and summoned the energy to hold off his rivals in the finale to win.

Austria's Andreas Mueller was second, with Luke Davison of Australia third and Owain Doull of Great Britain fifth.

Irvine said: "I thought my chances were gone after the pursuit final. My legs were hollow.

"I thought 'If I don't finish the scratch, oh well I've tried.'

"I just stuck to what I know, just committed 100 per cent and it paid off.

"I just got into the race and just stayed near the front, stayed out of trouble.

"Once I went, it was all or nothing. I didn't look back. It was full gas. "I saw a shadow on my hip with two laps to go and I just dug a bit more.

"I was waiting for a crowd of people to pass me, but they never did and I'm looking forward to seeing the video."

The success of Irvine, who was signed by second-tier road team United Health Care late last year, is all the more remarkable as Ireland's overall annual budget is in the region of 100,000 euros, something which pales into insignificance in comparison to their neighbours across the Irish Sea.

Irvine said: "I've been racing with them (Britain) for two or three years now. It's some set-up.

"That put fire in my belly to do the best I could with the little I had.

"You couldn't live on what I've been living on. I'll guarantee I'm one of the least funded guys on the podium. That makes it even sweeter."

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