Straffan woman is fifth fastest female in world

A Kildare woman is officially the fifth fastest female cyclist in the world.

A Kildare woman is officially the fifth fastest female cyclist in the world.

From Johnstownbridge, but now living in Straffan, Caroline Ryan came fifth at a World Track Cycling Championships in Minsk, Belarus, last Wednesday, February 20.

And while she didn’t bag any medals she clearly showed that she’s progressing nicely to being able to perform at a very high and 
consistant level.

She recorded a time of 3 minutes.38.269 seconds over three kilometres in the individual pursuit.

That race involves two racers lining up against each other at exactly opposite sides of the track and competing to see who passes 3kms first.

With a time like that, Ms. Ryan had held an average speed of 49.45 kmh or 30.72 mph.

While a lot of the media focus has inevitably been on Co. Down man Martyn Irvine’s gold and silver medal wins the following day, seasoned observers say that Ms. Ryan’s performance was astonishing and a great improvement over her ninth position in the same discipline last year.

Her career hit a high point at those same World Championships in Melbourne last year when she won a bronze medal in the points race, an event she says she only entered to “get some racing into her legs”.

Reports from last Wednesday in Minsk suggest that Ryan could have actually gone faster again.

In her final race-off she faced Canadian Laura Brown and completed her first kilometre in 1 min 15.251 seconds, whereas she completed the second kilometre five seconds faster and recorded 1:11.815 in the 
last kilometre.

The consequence of that is that she only lost to Ms. Brown by less than half a second.

Following her performance, Irish Head Coach Brian Nugent noted that “top five in the world for the second year running is a lot to be proud of by Caroline and for Ireland, especially in the tough individual pursuit.

“The result today was superb, and shows that Caroline is one of the top riders in the world. We are excited about the points and scratch (races) still to come,” track coach Andy 
Sparks explained.

The success of Ms. Ryan and Mr. Irvine have prompted renewed calls for Ireland to build its own velodrome (the wooden cycling track).

On Friday, Ryan took part in a different discipline called the scratch race, a 10km chase around the track, and was very unlucky not to medal.

With 13 of the 40 laps to go, she attacked off the front and was quickly joined by a Mexican and Polish rider. It proved to be the winning move with her two companions taking gold and silver.

But, worn out from the effort of the initial attack, Ryan faded and with the line literally in spitting distance, was passed by five other riders.

The average speed of the race was more than 47 kmh.

On Saturday, she tweeted: “Thanks everyone :) I gave it the Holly. A good nights sleep now & looking forward to the Points Race tomorrow.”

You can watch the race, and Caroline’s brave attack if you search YouTube for ‘Women’s Scratch Race – Final – 2013 UCI World Track Championships.

- Conor McHugh