Ireland build Olympic qualification hopes with fourth in European championship team pursuit

Mia Griffin, Kelly Murphy, Lara Gillespie and Alice Sharpe lose out to Olympic champions Germany for bronze medal

Irish riders Mia Griffin, Kelly Murphy, Lara Gillespie and Alice Sharpe finished a fine fourth in the European track championship team pursuit on Thursday evening, putting up a strong fight against Germany.

The quartet were all nursing bruises and, in the case of Sharpe, a facial cut after crashes during Wednesday’s qualifying session and first round, but still rode well.

As Olympic champions and world record holders, Germany were expected to prevail in the bronze-medal final and so it panned out. Ireland limited their losses early on and raced to a fine time of 4 minute 21.539 seconds, but their rivals scorched around the track in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands, in 4:14.768.

Still, Ireland will be satisfied with a strong performance in the championships, particularly as it moves the team closer to Olympic qualification.

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It went into the race ninth in the world rankings with the top 10 teams to qualify for Paris 2024. Fourth in the team pursuit will consolidate or even boost that position.

Three track Nation Cup races remain as counting events, with the points from the best two of those to be considered.

The Irish riders are due to compete in the Adelaide round between February 2nd and 4th, then Hong Kong (March 15th to 17th). The third round, Milton in Canada, is a possible target depending on how the other two go. That will be held between April 12th and 14th.

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