Lara Gillespie claims she’s continuing to gain confidence on the track as she concluded her debut UCI Track Champions League campaign with a first victory in the elimination race in London on Saturday, November 11th.
The Co. Wicklow rider won the final endurance race of the series as she proved her talent among the best track riders in the world.
The 22-year-old, a member of the Ireland national team, is building up to an important year as Ireland bids to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games in the Women’s Team Pursuit and other events.
The prestigious league features five rounds of racing across Europe, beginning with the first round in Mallorca on Saturday, October 21st, and finishing in London on November 11th.
All riders competing in the league are invited to participate directly by the UCI and are able to recruit personal sponsors to help meet costs, rather than compete for their National Teams, however rankings points accrued will count towards qualification for the 2024 Track World Championships.
Despite coming from a rest period following a busy summer of racing, Gillespie raced brilliantly throughout as she grew in confidence with every round.
Ahead of the final round, Gillespie took third place finishes in the elimination races in rounds three and four before a triumphant fifth and final round saw her win the elimination race and come second in the scratch race in London.
Gaining crucial hours rubbing shoulders among the world’s best track riders, Gillespie finished fourth overall in the women’s endurance category, which was won by Great Britain’s Katie Archibald.
With the 2024 UEC Track European Championships less than two months away (January 10-14th), Gillespie claims the experience will give her confidence as she continues her development.
Gillespie said she “had the best time ever.” Continuing, “Like I said at the beginning, for me this was a process – the goal is learning rather than performing. Getting the opportunity to race back-to-back really accelerated my learning and skills that I’ve never ever had the opportunity to do before. I loved gaining confidence throughout, and I’m super excited to develop from here. The relaxed nature of the event and meeting loads of new people suited me down to the ground.”
Ireland’s Orla Walsh also raced in the prestigious series, competing in the women’s sprint category, battling to a 14th place in the overall standings.