Olympic places are on the line for Irish cyclists as they get the World Championships in Berlin underway this morning.

A team of 8 riders has been selected to represent Ireland at the UCI Track World Championships which run until March 1st and will be televised on the BBC.

The Irish team will compete across 9 events including the Men’s and Women’s Madison in which they will hope to qualify a slot for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Ireland’s track cycling squad has undertaken a gruelling campaign to secure their place at the World Championships, travelling to World Cup events in Belarus, Glasgow, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia and Canada and the European Championships in the Netherlands. Felix English won gold in Glasgow, Shannon McCurley silver in the Netherlands, Lydia Gurley silver in New Zealand and Emily Kay bronze in Canada – an impressive haul that underlines the team’s strength in depth.

The 2020 World Championships marks the culmination of a 2-year campaign to secure Olympic qualification. The women’s Madison team is well placed inside the qualification zone thanks to a string of big results including a top 10 finish at the 2019 Track World Championships and 8th at the 2019 European Championships. Lydia Boylan and Lydia Gurley will hope to continue the teams run of good form with a strong performance over the 30-kilometre race which features no less than 12-point scoring sprints.

The men’s Madison team has spent 2019 building their Olympic ranking, posting many of their best results at the end of 2019 and the start of 2020, however, they remain in a battle for the final qualification slot. Mark Downey and Felix English will need to outgun Hong Kong by several finishing places to leapfrog them in the rankings and claim the final qualification slot.

“It’s been a good year for the team in the Olympic Qualifying events,” said Cycling Ireland technical director Brian Nugent.

“We have put in a huge amount of work and effort to ensure that we are here in a position to fight for those all-important Olympic slots.”

“There is a big job to be done but we have come a long way this year and we are ready to race and looking forward to the opportunity.”