Lara Gillespie sprints to glory in National Road Race Championship

by Stephen Findlater

Teenager Lara Gillespie sprinted to a breath taking victory in cycling’s senior women’s national road race championship last weekend at Knockaderry, Limerick, leading home Thursday’s time trial champion Eve McCrystal.

Now riding in UCD colours, the former Orwell Wheelers rider produced an outstanding finish after a game of cat and mouse in cold but sunny conditions on the 20-kilometre lap.

After four laps and 80 kilometres of racing, no attempted break stuck and so the contest came down to a high stakes tactical battle at high pace to get the edge.

Gillespie kicked hard on the uphill sprint and took the victory a bike length ahead of McCrystal.

“It was intense from the beginning of the race, there was a group off the front,” the 19-year-old Gillespie said of the race. “We were coming up the hill and with about 500 metres to go it just felt like it was going on for ages, it was a really good race.

“So many strong women out today, I am just really surprised that I won.

“I am so proud, I worked so hard all year. I was so disappointed after the TT – I was really motivated.

Conn McDunphy of CC Nugent Oise on his way to winning the mens senior title Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Bryan Keane

“The last kilometre was very tactical. Everyone was watching each other, I thought I was in a rubbish position and there were nearly a few crashes.

“I just got a gap on the outside and I went for it. It felt way longer than I thought but luckily it went well.”

Lucan’s Conn McDunphy, meanwhile, won the senior men’s time trial with a surprise two second victory over Nicolas Roche.

McDunphy, who races in France with CC Nogent/Oise, blasted home in a time of 26’29’’, Roche came home with 26’31’’.

“I’m in shock to be honest, to be one of Ireland’s best ever cyclists is never an easy feat. Nico has won so many things so I am just so happy with the ride.

“I felt I was on a good day. I wasn’t sure what to expect initially when I came home from France and was on quarantine for 14 days.

“I haven’t raced in 20 days but when I was warming up on the road I felt good and I got five kilometres in, I know this sounds cheesy, but I just smiled because I knew I was having a good day.”

“On the way back it was really hard and I suffered a lot but I managed to get it all out.”

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