Irish riders secure place in bronze medal final at European track championships

Irish team battered and bruised after two crashes but have a chance of a medal

They will be battered and bruised after two crashes, but the Irish team will be racing off for a bronze medal at the European track championships in the Netherlands on Thursday.

The team of Kelly Murphy, Lara Gillespie, Alice Sharpe and Erin Creighton had a mishap during the qualifying session on the Apeldoorn velodrome on Wednesday afternoon, crashing during their 4,000-metre effort.

Permitted a restart, they raced to a time of 4 minutes 23.807 for the 4,000-metre distance, good enough for fifth.

Creighton was due to be swapped out for Mia Griffin for round one, with the quartet going up against Switzerland in that evening contest.

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The Irish team was far faster and caught their rivals just after the halfway point. While they lost time having to go up the track to overtake them, they still went more than 10 seconds faster than the Swiss with a time of 4 minutes 20.881.

However, a freak accident after their effort saw the slowing Irish team having to drift up the track so as not to impede the finishing Swiss team, with Gillespie then clipping the back of Murphy’s bike. Both riders fell, sliding down the banking.

This in turn caused Sharpe to crash, with the former road national champion riding over Murphy’s arm, losing control and then sliding nose-first into Gillespie’s spinning rear wheel. This left her with a bloodied cut to her face.

The Irish performance sees the team go up against Germany in the bronze medal final on Thursday. The latter riders were over six-and-a-half seconds quicker than the Irish, making bronze a big ask, but whether they finish third or fourth, the performance will do their Olympic qualification hopes no harm.

The bronze medal final will be held at 5.43pm Irish time. Griffin is also due to contest the scratch race at 8.31pm.

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