WORLD CYCLING: Banbridge rider takes Top 10 finish in Hong Kong

Banbridge Cycling Club's Mark Downey who finsihed in the Top 10 in Hong Kong.
Banbridge Cycling Club's Mark Downey who finsihed in the Top 10 in Hong Kong.

2017 UCI Track Cycling World Championships

Banbridge Cycling Club’s Mark Downey finished 10th in the Points Race at the 2017 UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Hong Kong on Friday.

Dromore man Downey entered the event as one of the pre-race favourites following a dominant season in the World Cups and it resulted in his being marked out of a top result.

The Men’s Points Race was dominated by Australia’s Cameron Meyer, who won gold, with Kenny de Ketele (Belgium) taking silver and Wojciech Pszczolarski (Poland) taking bronze.

While disappointed with the result, Downey was not downbeat about his 10th place: “I think I was a marked man in the race, and didn’t know how to deal with that position.

“Every time I made a move it was counter-attacked. It’s frustrating, but it’s not the last chance I’ll ever have, tomorrow morning I’ll be able to take positives from the race.”

Having won gold in this event at the World Cups in Cali and Apeldoorn this season, Downey is confident in his ability.

“There were a couple of guys there who I’ve competed against and beaten at this level, but Cameron was head and shoulders above the rest of us. It gave me a real taste of what this level is like. It’s nice having people talk about you going into the race, but a bit of a bummer when you’re in the race. It takes something special to do what Meyer did.”

This season the Irish Track Team has won six significant medals, it was not lost on the 20-year-old.

“This was one of the best seasons Cycling Ireland has ever had in the World Cups, and this won’t put a dampener on that. It’s been a long year with both the road and track and this was a hard race; a lot of people said it was the fastest ever!”

With 44 laps of the 160 laps remaining Downey attacked hard: “I waited until everyone was spent and tried to go for a medal, it was all or nothing, I gave it a real go because I wasn’t going to not try. We got a group away, but they weren’t committing to it. I thought that I would do a few pulls and go again, but nobody was willing to do anything.”

Eventual winner Meyer was outstanding in the event, regaining the title he won in 2012.

“When Meyer went again he had the legs, he showed everyone how to use those legs tonight. I might not have got the better of him this time, but I’ve a lot more years in the tank. Give me a few years and then we’ll talk!”

Downey competes again on Sunday with Felix English in the Madison, and has already turned his focus on that.

“Last night Felix took positives out of his race, and I’ll take the positives out of this. Missing out on the medal is definitely a big motivation for the Madison, I want to go out with a bang and forget about last night and tonight. I’m looking forward to Sunday, one big last push.”