OMAGH Wheeler Marc Potts dipped his toe in the world of competitive track cycling by riding for the Irish team at The UEC Elite European Track Championships in Switzerland at the weekend.
Potts, the most inexperienced member of the Irish squad, and Martyn Irvine, both went in the 4K individual pursuit, the Beragh man paired with 2012 world champion Gijs Van Hoecke.
Racing against the clock, Potts posted a time of four minutes and 36 seconds to finish approximately 20 seconds behind outright winner Stefan Keung from Switzerland.
All things considered it was a pretty impressive showing by Potts who has spent the last couple of seasons competing professionally in Belgium.
Potts, who finished fifth in the senior men’s road race at the Irish nationals staged in Omagh back in June, was named as part of the Irish track team with the long-term goal of qualifying for the Tokoyo Olympics in 2020.
The Irish team is based in Mallorca until the spring and following the Europeans Potts and his team-mates will compete in World Cup events in Columbia at the end of the month and Hong Kong in January.
“The aim is to qualify for the World Championships in London in March,” said Marc.
“Out of the whole team I’m the only one who hasn’t raced on the track before. The rest of the guys have been doing it for years so it’s all new and exciting for me.
“The first races in Switzerland and Columbia are going to be a bit of a tester and a steep learning curve. We aren’t expecting any results as we are all coming off the back of a rest period after the road season finished up about six weeks ago.
“We are realistic all aiming to be in competitive shape for Hong Kong in January and hopefully that will get us a ride in the World Championships.”
Potts admits it’s going to take a huge effort and commitment to make that a reality. However the Wheeler has made rapid progress since competing professionally in Belgium on a regular basis, a fact underlined by his call up to the national team.
While London 2016 is firmly in his sights, competing in the 2020 Olympics is the ultimate goal.
“The big picture is the Tokyo 2020 Olympics,” he stressed.
A NEW cycling academy aimed at identifying, nurturing and supporting young talent has been set up in Omagh