The end of season has been a busy one, and we've been neglecting the usual reports, but we can't let Orla Hendron's magnificent double silver at the Track Cycling Masters World Champs slip by unannounced. Also MIA was Brian McNally's super 3rd place at the Barrow Wheelers GP, and two Orwellians attempting the National Hill Climb Champs.

We'll build up to the World Champs slowly, lest the sudden excitement cause any readers to swoon. Two weeks ago, about 60 riders signed on in Wexford for the Barrow Wheelers GP, with about 25 of those being A4 riders eager to gather up the last points of the season. What the field lacked in quantity, it made up in quality, as among them was Orwell's own Brian McNally, fresh from two top ten spots in the Laragh Classic and the Leinster RR Champs.

We had previously suggested that after taking 8th and then 7th, McNally would steadily progress up the placings, but he confounded that prediction by leaping to 3rd on that fine September Sunday. The six points he garnered there leave him just a single point from an upgrade A3, and we are confident with his competitive nature, he'll have that in the bag by mid-February.

McNally in 4rd - we'll have to get him a spare jersey for podium presentations! (photo thanks to Barrow Wheelers GP)

The next weekend, Brian McArdle and David Swift made the long journey to Tralee CC's National Hill Climb Champs. McArdle's ambitions were high, coming from a bronze medal at the Leinsters, and 7th at the Nationals the previous year, and - as he never lets anyone forget - taking the non-existent A3 title. This year he was facing more serious competition as an A1, including two previous champs in PSN teammates Ryan Sherlock and Mark Dowling.

Swift was aiming for a top fifteen spot, and was targetting a medal in the A3 category. To achieve this, he'd have to overcome the Leinster bronze medallist Martin Vereker among many local hopefuls.

While the previous day's recce was done in warm sunshine, the morning of the competition was damp and misty. Each rider indulged in the self-flagellating masochism that is the climb up the ironically named Short Mountain, with both Orwell riders modelling the newly re-designed skinsuits.

In the end, McArdle slipped down the rankings, barely managing to hold a top ten spot, confessing that his lead-in training had not been optimal, featuring one too many nights in the pub. Swift was denied a medal by a mere 3" when recently upgraded Ger Healy (Deenside Wheelers) took the bronze, and was only 6" from Vereker's silver. The lack of a shiny token of victory should not diminish that result however - with such a climbing ability at his beck and call, we expect to see Swift emerge from winter training to take plenty of placings next season.

Some photos available at here and here.

Finally we come to last week's dramatic showdowns at the Track Cycling Masters World Championships in Manchester. The Irish squad was a strong one, and would eventually see our own Orla Hendron and Sundrive's Susie Mitchell come away with two silver medals each.

Hendron had just come off the back of the An Post Rás na mBan, which she described as a great workout for toughening her condition, but felt that her training had suffered throughout the year due to coaching commitments on the track, and with the Neenan Travel 2020 Talent Team. She also had to deal with the stress and inconvenience of having her track bike stolen from Sundrive in the weeks before the Worlds, and commended Malcolm Goggin for offering a replacement, though she used husband Dave Tansey's bike in the end. Despite this hardship, she headed to Manchester with rainbow striped ambitions, having wore the worlds' jersey in 2010 as Points Champion.

After the 500TT went awry on the opening day, the Scratch race on the second day was her first real target. Hendron launched a flurry of attacks throughout, wearing down her opponents as her own ability to endure the continuous suffering kept her legs fresh. That strategy proved to be fruitless when, with three laps to go, a bad crash saw three women hit the deck and take a chunk out of the boards.

The remaining riders were brought into the pen while repairs were made - giving everyone time to recover, and rendering Hendron's previous attacks void. When the race restarted, they were given five laps to the line. Hendron positioned herself at the rear, able to watch the moves, and ready to launch a final sprint from behind. Instead, with a lap and a half to go, Petra Kluender (GER) attacked on the inside and got a small gap. Hendron chased hard, and got across, but unfortunately strayed into the côte d'azur while chasing - the blue apron at the bottom of the track that is off-limits in certain scenarios.

Thus, despite coming around Kluender and holding off Tara Unverzagt (USA) to cross the line first, and putting her hands in air in celebration, Hendron was disqualified from the results and the jersey went to Unverzagt. Frustrated but accepting that she had erred, Hendron quickly switched her focus to the later events. At Rás na mBan, the vet found her legs strengthening as the week wore on, and hopefully the same effect would see her rightfully claim a jersey at the Masters.

Unverzagt would prove to be Hendron's nemesis throughout the competition. Two days later, both herself and Hendron were up again in the Individual Pursuit (2km/8 laps). Hendron cruised through the qualifying ride, placing second highest with a time of 2:44.422 against Unverzagt's 2:43.932. With plenty left in the tank, Hendron was confident she could beat the American in the gold medal ride off.

Everything was on schedule for the first kilometre, with Hendron down entering the second kilometre; she then drew level with three laps to go. She rode all out for the final section, but Unverzagt's talents at the close proved too much, and Hendron had to settle for second, with only 1.369" in the difference. The silver medal was some comfort, to add to the evergreen's haul from previous editions of the Champs.

The last event for Hendron was the Points race, the discipline in which she claimed her World Champion title in 2010. However, having moved up an age category this year, the race was shorter and not suited to Hendron's lasting ability. With only four sprints instead of six, she admitted that Unverzagt rode a tactically better race, getting the high points in early.

Hendron took 2 points in the first sprint after being positioned further back in the line-out, but lead the second sprint for maximum spoils. Unverzagt stole 3 points behind her, and took the third sprint. For the final sprint, Australian Sue Challen clipped off the front to be first across the line. Hendron followed closest, but the 3 points on offer was not enough to beat Unverzagt. With 15 points to the 12 being the final tally, she had to be content with a second silver.

Hendron on the podium for the Points race (photo thanks to Aidan Reade)

Though it might seem like she was defeated, Hendron remains resilient, and is adamant that the lack of gold has only stoked her hunger, and she'll be returning next year to take home a jersey or two. As well as her 2010 gold (she also picked up a bronze that year), she has won two medals in each of the intervening years, so this year's batch are only a continuation of her timeless talent.

She congratulated teammate Susie Mitchell on her identical double silver haul - for the Points and Individual Pursuit - and said that for both of them, the desire to win another World Champs had only grown stronger. Both enjoyed the buzz and atmosphere of the Champs, with many competitors returning year upon year and plenty of friendships made off the track.

Hendron paid credit to her coach Paddy Doran, who helped her reach her potential despite the limited time available for training, and to Mark Kiely for the derny sessions. She also thanked her husband and club president David Tansey of Joe Daly Cycles for his endless support throughout the season and tournament. We have no doubt with such a formidable team behind her, and her sheer doggedness and determination - not to mention abundant talent - we'll see Orla Hendron in a set of rainbow stripes in 2014!

Some photos of Orla here - copyright belongs to photographer:
Scratch 1 - attacking! | Scratch 2 | Scratch 3 - lurking | Scratch 4 - the DQ moment | Scratch 5 - first across the line | Pursuit | Points 1 | Points 2 | Points 3

Barrow Wheelers GP (A3 Race)

1 Martin Askins (SERC)
2 Mel Bridgewater (Barrow Wheelers)
3 Brian McNally (DTC Orwell Wheelers)
4 Kevin Culhane (u/a)
5 Ger Healy (Deenside Wheelers)
6 Redmond O'Toole (Team WORC)

National Hill Climb Championships 2013

1 Mark Dowling (Polygon Sweet Nice) A1 12:02.30
2 Ryan Sherlock (Cycleways CC / PSN) A1 12:03.04
3 Danny Bruton (Nicolas Roche Performance Team) Jun 12:27.47
4 Matt Slattery (Killarney CC) A1 12:35.30
5 Denis Lynch (Sliabh Luachra CC) A2 12:37.57
6 James Davenport (South Dublin CC) A1 12:44.48
7 Greg Swinand (Usher IRC) A1 o/40 12:51.54
8 Eoin Morton (UCD CC) A1 12:56.09
9 George Doyle (Tralee BC) A3 13:25.84 1st A3
10 Brian McArdle (DTC Orwell Wheelers) A1 13:39.06
15 Martin Vereker (St. Tiernans CC) A3 14:13.66 2nd A3
17 Ger Healy (Deenside Wheelers) A3 14:16.78 3rd A3
18 David Swift (DTC Orwell Wheelers) A3 14:19.60

2013 UCI Track Cycling Masters World Championships

Women's 50-54 Individual Pursuit

G UNVERZAGT Tara USA 2:43.890
S HENDRON Orla IRL 2:45.259B
B HIGGS Christine GBR 2:46.094

Women's 50+ Points Race

RankNameTeamSprint NumberTotal

Full results at