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December 14, 2018 - MARTIN GORDON and pilot Eamonn Byrne have won Silver in Tandem B Sprint at the UCI Track World Cup in London.

Gordon, a visually-impaired athlete, set a new National Record for the eighth time in 13 months when riding 10.313 in the flying 200m during qualifying, a time second only to World Champion Neil Fachie and pilot Matt Rotherham from Great Britain.

They sailed through the Quarter Finals, beating Switzerland to set up a clash in the Semi Finals with Great Britain's experienced second pairing of Matthew Ellis and pilot Barney Storey.

Gordon and Byrne won unchallenged, but so did Fachie and Rotherham. The evening final at London’s Olympic Velodrome was decided in the first two rides, the British tandem cementing their position as the best in the world, and Ireland moving up to challenge.

“It was a great day’s racing, especially in front of the crowd,” said Martin Gordon. “We’ve pushed the World Champions to the line twice now in the last couple of months, yet we’re still in the middle of a training block ahead of the International in January and the World’s in March.

“We’re over the moon. A lot of people have put their faith in us, but they did that because we worked hard. Eamon and I, people call us the Chuckle Brothers because we get on so well, but we get the head down and we buzz off each other.

“Every training session, every day we push each other on, and we’re seeing in increments where it’s paying off. There’s the motivation to keep going for more.”

The Irish Tandem’s performance was another step up a rapid upward curve, their 2018 Para-cycling Track World Championships qualifying time of 10.539 ranking them sixth just months ago. They then didn't progress beyond Quarter-Finals, losing 2-0 to the Netherlands.

What it will take to get beyond the World Champions' level, Gordon has no illusions about, saying: “Absolutely everything we have and haven’t got yet.

“It’s like what Charles Dickens says in A Tale of Two Cities, “Nothing that we do, is done in vain. I believe, with all my soul, that we shall see triumph,” and we will. These guys have been doing this a very, very long time, we’re two years in and we think it is achievable. We wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t think it was.”

Gordon praised High Performance Director Brian Nugent and National Coach Neill Delahaye for their backing, Delahaye being the man who first saw sprint potential in the former endurance rider two years ago.

Gordon explained: “Two years ago, after good conversation with Neill Delahaye, I said, ‘look I want to switch to sprint, after missing out on Rio 2016,’, and he said, ‘yep, I’ll support that,’ because I’ve always tested well with those high power efforts.”

It was the first time Para-cycling had been included in a Track World Cup programme, and Gordon added: “To come to a World Cup and to be able to race in front of that kind of crowd, and most importantly with every other able-bodied cyclist was a thrill.

“As I said once or twice today, we’ve just taken the para out of para-cycling - everyone that’s here is just a cyclist, not an able-bodied cyclist, not a para-cyclist.”

The Silver Medal winners will race next in January in Manchester at the Paracycling International, their last competition ahead of World Championships in Apeldoorn in March, where the tandem look set to face Britain again on St Patrick’s Day.

Also on Friday, para-cyclist Chris Burns finished sixth in the C1-3 1km TT in a time of 1.15.709, while the Women’s Team Pursuit foursome took on Britain’s HSBC Breeze UK development panel in an historic ride.

It was the first time Ireland’s Women’s Team Pursuit had ever qualified for the last eight at a Track World Cup, the qualifying time of 4.31.762 just 0.096 seconds slower than Ireland’s national record, set in 2015 by a more experienced squad.

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