Iverk Produce Carrick Wheelers rider Hugh Mulhearne claimed the first National Cycling Championships of his cycling career as he won the Elite Men’s National Omnium Track Championships last weekend. The event, which took place in Dublin, consisted of six different events over two days and most would consider it cycling’s version of the decathlon.
Mulhearne had a dream start to the 2-day event winning the Elimination Race (a race where the last rider passing the finish line on each lap is eliminated), the 30km Points Race (a race where there is a sprint for points every ten laps) and placing 5th in the 250m Flying start in a time of 15.94 secs. This excellent opening day left the Kilmacthomas man in pole position on the leader board, however, he had only a slender 1 point lead over John Lynch of Kilcullen, and Brendan Whelan of the Limerick based Cycling Pursuits Club a further 7 points back in third. It was clear to Mulhearne that Lynch would be very much the danger man for the three events on the second and final day.
Lynch duly delivered a charge for victory, winning the 4km Individual Pursuit, the opening event on the final day. Mulhearne, however, wasn’t far behind posting a time of 5.05mins for the discipline of which current Tour De France yellow jersey wearer Bradley Wiggins is a double Olympic Gold Medalist. Lynch’s winning time of 5.02mins put him back on level terms with Mulhearne on the top of standings.
The penultimate race of the Omnium was the 20km Scratch Race. This race, as its title suggests, is a straight forward 20km race where first over the line wins. This event was perhaps the most testing race of the six events over the weekend for Hugh, as Lynch drew much support from his team mates in this tactical affair. Mulhearne who was over one hundred miles from home, was on his own.
Hugh’s tactic in this race was to try following Lynch throughout the contest before trying to finish ahead of him at the chequered flag, which would give him the lead going into the final event. The Carrick Wheelers strongman amazingly delivered on it, coming home in 4th place just ahead of Lynch in 5th, and as these two were a long way clear at the head of affairs the places of the other participants were of little significance in the overall standings. Mulhearne led again by a single point with one event to go.
In the final event, the 1km Standing Start or ‘The Kilo’ as it is known in the game, Lynch posted a time of 1.13mins to lead the final event and with only Mulhearne left to go the pressure was on him.
Mulhearne was clearly ‘in the zone’ though as he blitzed around the track in an impressive time of 1.12mins, good enough to win the final event and win the overall competition. Mulhearne had won the National Elite Men’s Omnium Championships and proudly received a rare All-Ireland Gold Medal and his National Champions Jersey.
Remarkably, this is only Mulhearne’s 2nd season riding the track, having previously focused on road racing where he also won a number of prestigious events including the Mick Cahill Memorial, since taking up the sport just over five years ago.
Track cycling has come to the fore in this part of the world in recent years, largely thanks to the dominance of the British Track Team in the last Olympics, with names such as the afore mentioned Bradley Wiggins, winning two gold medals in Beijing, Vicky Pendleton doing likewise, and the knighted Chris Hoy taking three Gold Medals from the 2008 games.
The London Velodrome will surely make the headlines next month, as London 2012 will be beamed around the world, as the growing popularity of cycling shows no signs of slowing.