Photos (incl. feature collage) courtesy of Isabella T & Colm Ó Cuinneagáin with thanks to both..

Noah told us: “Saturday 24th July saw round 2 of the Irish Sprinter’s League taking place once again at the legendary Sundrive Velodrome in Dublin. Riders bathed under 152 million kilometers of uninterrupted headroom and terrestrial trackside temperatures nearing 30 degrees Celsius. As is usual, the league saw Irish based riders of all abilities from the young to the old, the upcoming and the outgoing, the future greats, some of the countries fastest ever riders, and most revered of all the great voices of experience gather together to share ideas and try to guess each other’s current form!
The first timed round-up for points was an individual gated start standing 1/2 lap time trial of 230 meters and with sweltering yet calm conditions it was over to the fast men and fast women to lay it all on the track followed by great boasting and world-class excuses from many! Hard-fought points for the series would be awarded so it was no time for fun and games

In such an explosive event the riders need to be ready and get their muscles and mind warmed up and into top gear for the 20 seconds or so of effort lying ahead of them. Hugh Byrne (see photo below) was again on hand having single-handedly dragged the 780kg starting gate out of storage and over 100 meters into the track so that the sprinters could become accustomed to the drill with the Irish National Team Sprint and Team Pursuit Championships looming.

For the elite men it would be a fiercely contested battle between current Match Sprint, Keirin, and Team Sprint Champion Harvey “Top Gun” Barnes – the UCI track professional having been successful in trips abroad this month in Germany and France (including making two UCI CL1 podiums) and his arch-nemesis Anthony Mairs. The elite women had some heavy hitters in double Irish Champion “the smiling assassin” Deirbhle Ivory alongside current Irish Keirin Champion and now teammate and fast woman Nikki Taggart. Former Irish Sprint Champion Michael Mulcahy was out for leg buster, and Juan Rodriguez of Sundrive set an excellent time out of the gate. There were five times in this qualifying round sub 20 seconds! Not bad for the Irish sprinters on an outdoor track.

After 45 minutes of dousing themselves with ice water in the biblically hot temperatures, the exhausted sprinters were back up on the track for more punishment and to practice their starting and changeovers ahead of the upcoming Nationals.   Riders could choose their partners for this two-man/woman/X event and gain some experience with changes and riding as a team.  The fastest time went to the race experienced Mairs/Barnes duo of 31.50s and for the women teammates, Ivory/Taggart set a time of 34.61s.   Familiar voice Paul Bonass teamed up with Deividas Dyvlaitis to set a superb time for a new pairing.  Ulster duo Helen McPartland and Rachel White looked smooth together for their first run and all in all the riders were largely comfortable for their one-lap team effort. NOTE: Current Women’s Irish Keirin champion Nikki Taggart and double Irish Champion Deirbhle Ivory set a faster time in the Team Sprint than the existing Irish record of 34.73s set by the Irish team riders Robyn and Eimer at the 2019 Irish Championships. A notable performance from the duo showing the ever-increasing standard of Irish sprinting.

Once again the successful sprint series known for its friendly and open environment was enjoyed by all with more learned and some hot and tired bodies heading back home to all corners of the country after racing was completed! A big thanks to ” Mr. Costa del Sundrive” Hugh and to Isabella and Colm for their photographs. I hope I’m not forgetting anyone but forgive me if so, the league also wishes Liam Collins who couldn’t make it a speedy recovery from his leg injury!” yours in sport, Noah De Jong (Results of round 1 and round 2 are found in the following link)