Chris Boardman has called for more investment in Irish cycling after watching a stellar performance from Martyn Irvine in Minsk, Belarus.
The 27-year-old is the first Irishman to win a gold medal at the World Track Championships for 117 years, and Ireland's track cycling programme has a budget of only £86,000, compared with the £8m available per year for Great Britain over the new Olympic cycle.
Boardman said: "I think he was people's champion on the track when he took that gold medal.
"It really was something that delighted all the crowd, it was a real scrappy performance," he told BBC News.
Irvine also won a silver medal in the individual pursuit, but after only an hour to recover, he took gold in the 15km men's scratch race.
Boardman, who won gold in the individual pursuit at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics said: "Martin's in a similar situation to what I was 20 years ago when he just had to find a way to make it work.
"Sometimes you have to put the cart before the horse, before people get behind you.
"He could be the person that starts the gold rush for Ireland.
"Hopefully now he's proved that the Irish team is worthy of investment.
"He's now proved that he's at the moment the best rider in that discipline in the world, it shows that he's a force to be reckoned with.
"That should give him a lot of confidence and to people to back him with funding."
Boardman added that Irvine had what it took to become a real people's hero, with his charm and the excitement of watching his raes.
"He's a very attacking courageous rider, great fun, exactly what everybody wants in a bike race really is people who ride like Martin," Mr Boardman said.
"I think that's one of the reasons that people inside cycling really enjoyed him taking that gold yesterday.
"I think what I enjoy most is his courageous nature the fact that he'll just get stuck in, go and look for opportunities.
"He's a lovely unassuming fellow, I don't think he's going to have any problems with an expanding ego."
Irvine tweeted a photo of his champion's jersey, his two medals and a bouquet of flowers after his win, saying "Thanks for ALL the messages! I'm talking thousands! Not sure how I'm gonna get back to them all! World champion.....funny:)"
He then added that his phone had crashed amid the torrent of well-wishing.
<p>After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.</p>