Orla Walsh stays ahead of the pack with National Track Cycling hat-trick

Dublin sprint star Orla Walsh completed a hat-trick of victories at the National Track Cycling championships today when she blew the field apart in the 500m time trial.

alsh’s time of 36:42 was almost two seconds quicker than Nikki Taggart (UCD), with Deirbhle Ivory (UCD) close behind in third.

The three riders occupied the same positions in the keirin event earlier this morning while Walsh was also in dominant form to take gold in the Saturday sprint event.

The 32-year-old Nopinz Motip rider was defending her 2020 titles in the sprint and 500m time trial at the Sundrive Velodrome but it was her first victory at the keirin, which had been postponed two weeks ago due to poor weather conditions at the outdoor velodrome.

“I was bit worried about the keirin because I’d never won it before and it’s obviously a bit different to the sprint where you can’t always rely on being the fastest,” said Walsh, who lost two months of her early season as she recovered from Covid-19.

“It played out well, there was a little bit of argy-bargy in the middle with people fighting for position but I knew when Nikki went – I knew she wanted the win a lot – so when she attacked I knew that was my time to follow that wheel. I was confident based on our times yesterday that if I followed her I’d have enough speed to come around her at the finish.”

Meanwhile, Autumn Collins made up for the frustration of finishing fourth in last year’s scratch event to take the gold in a thrilling race.

Repeated attacks saw a lead group of four pull clear of the field with Kelly Murphy, fresh from her gold in Saturday’s individual pursuit event, launching an attack with two laps to go. But Murphy was reeled in by the combined efforts of Collins, Caoimhe O’Brien (silver), and Gabriella Homer (bronze) with the Spellman-Dublin Port rider showing her rivals a clean pair of heels in the sprint finish.

“I’m really happy, I was fourth last year so coming into it I was just thinking I really want a medal because it’s so disappointing to come fourth, and I’d two fourths last year,” said Collins.

“It was a hard race, it kept splitting up and it ended up coming down to four of us, and I was thinking ‘there’s four of us here, so I don’t want to come fourth again’ so I’m really happy to get gold.”

Harvey Barnes had a dominant win in the kilo time trial, clocking a time of 1.06.56, three seconds faster than Conor Rowley – who has just switched over allegiance from Australia – while Michael O’Loughlin finished third. Barnes also got the better of Rowley, a former junior world champion in the keirin, in Saturday’s sprint final.

National track cycling championships:

Women’s Keirin: O Walsh, N Taggart, D Ivory

Men’s Keirin: Anthony Mairs, M Mulcahy, Billy Crosbie

Women’s Scratch: A Collins, C O’Brien, G Homer

Men’s Scratch: R Byrne, I Donnelly, I Inglis

Women’s 500m TT: O Walsh, N Taggart, D Ivory

Men’s Kilo TT: H Barnes, C Rowley, M O’Loughlin

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