Eoghan Clifford will get the opportunity to defend his scratch title after he was named in the six-strong Ireland team for the upcoming International Cycling Union (UCI) Para-cycling Track World Championships in Italy.
Clifford claimed scratch gold at the 2015 event in Apeldoorn in The Netherlands and will bid for a second straight crown in the discipline during the competition in Montichiari, Italy, which takes place from March 17 to 20.
The Ireland squad for this year’s Para-cycling Track World Championships also includes two-time world champion Colin Lynch, who unsuccessfully attempted to break the C2 class World Hour Record in Manchester in October of last year after suffering a crash caused by a puncture.
He will be joined at the sport’s flagship annual event by multiple world medallists Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal, who will compete in the women’s tandem.
Ireland are set to launch the World Championships careers of men’s tandem duo Peter Ryan and Sean Hahessy as the pair will be participating in their first-ever edition of the event.
All of the Irish bikes will compete in the pursuit, with Clifford and Lynch doubling up in the scratch race.
Dunlevy and McCrystal will also go in the sprint, while both tandems will race against the clock in the kilo time trial.
The Irish team for the event has been undergoing intense preparations at a training camp at the Cycling Ireland base in Mallorca in Spain.
The Para-Cycling Track World Championships are also significant for another reason as the competition provides the last chance for riders to earn qualification points for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
“We are at the end of a very demanding training phase,” national performance coach Neill Delahaye said.
“This year’s camps have ramped up in intensity, as is to be expected in a Paralympic year, and the whole team has coped well with the extra load.
"They are now ready to give a good account of themselves in Montichiari - the riders have committed fully and put in a lot of hard work to get themselves in shape for these World Championships.
“These World Championships are also the last UCI nation ranking event counting for the Rio Paralympic Games.
“The team here is really motivated to put in some strong performances to help Ireland qualify as many bikes as possible for the Games.”