Clifford finishes Paracycling World Road Championships in style taking victory in the MC3 Time Trial
Ireland's Eoghan Clifford has taken victory in the MC3 Time Trial at the Paracycling World Road Championships in Notwil, Switzerland.
The Galway-native won the hilly, 31km test by 48 seconds from Germany's Steffen Warias to defend the title he won at the first attempt in Greenville, South Carolina last year.
Clifford led throughout the two laps of a hilly 15.5km circuit, extending his 40 second advantage at the half way point by a further eight seconds by the finish.
Afterwards Clifford described his elation at scoring back to back world titles in the most demanding 'race of truth'.
"It couldn't have gone any better," he said. "The course was very hard and that's the hardest time trial I've ever done. In hindsight I probably went out a bit too hard and I caught my minute man after about ten kilometres.
"On the second lap I was hanging on for dear life. I was absolutely on the rivet on the final hill but I managed to still put some time into the second placed rider and thankfully I managed to hang on.
"I'm absolutely delighted to defend the title, especially as it was on such a different course. Last year it was much flatter, this year it was hilly and it's nice to win on both types of course.
"I probably put myself under a bit more pressure this year to defend the title and I'm happy that I really left it all out there. When you cross the line it's a great feeling to know it's all been worthwhile.
"Because there's a Paralympics next year, there's no World Championships so I'll be the reigning World Champion for two years.
"My wife's family and my own family were here in Notwil so it was great to be able to win in front of them. I'd like to say a special thanks to all the Cycling Ireland staff for their efforts. Their support made a whole lot easier."
Clifford's world title capped a day of strong performances on the testing Notwil time trial courses.
Colin Lynch got Ireland's campaign under way in the morning MC2 time trial. The Macclesfield-based rider finished ninth competitors over three laps of a seven kilometre course.
Afterwards the former world champion on road and track was satisfied that he had delivered a performance that fully reflected his potential on a course less suited to his characteristics.
Men's tandem pairing Peter Ryan and sighted pilot Dermot Radford finished 15th in the Men's B category time trial over 31km.
In producing another strong performance the fast developing pairing acquired further vital experience at world level.
Katie-George Dunlevy was piloted by Eve McCrystal on their way to fifth in the women's 'B' tandem time trial over 31km.
Like others, the hilly course was less suited to last year's world championship road race silver medallists and they took considerable satisfaction in finishing within two places and 1m46s of a repeat medal.
Afterwards, head coach Neill Delahaye expressed satisfaction at Eoghan Clifford's gold medal and the performance of the other three Irish bikes in time trial action.
For Eoghan to get it all out on the day in the way he did was exceptional," said Delahaye. "I think he felt a responsibility to the rainbow jersey to perform and he certainly stepped up and delivered. He really is an amazing competitor.
"It was a little bit of a white knuckle ride on some sections of the course for all the bikes. With the parcours as it was, we knew that all the bikes would be up against it.
"The nations that we had earmarked to be contenders were very strong as expected but all the Irish bikes dug deep and they all got the maximum out of themselves on the day.
"On this circuit the bikes that were competitive will be hoping to do the same in the road races. We've learned a lot today and everyone is really motivated to put in another big ride on Saturday."
All four Irish bikes are back in action for Saturday's road races.
For full schedule, see below.
For full results during the Paracycling World Road Championships see:-