Marine Lenehan and Richard Barry took big wins as Cycling Ireland held the 2024 Esports National Championships on Saturday, February 10th.
Hosted on Zwift, the Championships saw six riders take part in the women’s race and eleven riders take to the start in the open race.
Kicking off the championships, Marine Lenehan dictated a fast and furious women’s race with a decisive attack inside the first 10km of the 23km Scottish Rolling Highlands course proving the big move of the race.
Lenehan was joined by Joanna Patterson and Mary Corless at the front as the trio built a strong gap over the rest of the field. All three made attempts to get a gap ahead of the final run-in but it came down to an uphill sprint to the line.
Lenehan started her sprint early, forcing a gap from Patterson, who didn’t have the power in the final meters to fully close it as she finished second with Corless over five seconds behind completing the podium.
Marine Lenehan said, “I didn’t really know what to expect. I’m quite new to Esports and it was mainly a tool for high intensity training and getting ready for the road season that’s starting soon. In my attack at the beginning of the race, I wanted to see how the bunch would react because we were going at a fairly easy pace. It was to test the other riders and bring the numbers down for a sprint finish. It was not that easy riding with Joanna and Mary in the last 10km or so – some small attacks.”
“It was a good sprint, a hard effort, but I had some fun. To be crowned national champion – my first Irish national title – I’m very happy. It’s a good way to start the season, I’ll be racing next week in Portugal. Good vibes to start the season!”
In the open race, eleven riders took to the start line as a high pace saw few attacks gain more than just a few seconds lead from the chasers.
But despite the attacks, most of the group managed to stay together throughout the race as Richard Barry, Ian Inglis, Keane Ryan, Liam Dunne and Finn McHenry proved most active in instigating and chasing attackers.
But despite all their work, eight riders came to the final kilometer together as the big contenders geared up for a sprint.
McHenry opened up the sprint early and looked to be in contention before Colin Clavin caught him in the final run-in as Richard Barry’s late surge saw him come around and take the win by just +0.310 seconds.
Richard Barry said, “I’m thrilled. I’ve never won a national medal before. To be a national champion, there’s no higher prize in a discipline so I’m absolutely delighted. My wife and kids came in about a minute later and congratulated me. They heard me celebrating two rooms away – I’d say the neighbors were disturbed as well!”
“It was a very even course and it allowed riders to stay in the race – it made it very tactical. I knew I had to make it hard because the guys from Racing Without Borders were probably trying to set up their guys for the sprint. I knew I had to burn a few of their matches and hope that I had a couple of matches left. I was lucky enough to get in his (Colin Clavin) wheel and come around him with probably only 75 to 100m to go.”
- Marine Lenehan (Team Dan Morrissey – Primor by Pissei)
- Joanna Patterson (The Independent Pedaler – Nopinz)
- Mary Corless (Challenge Cycling Club)
- Julie McElroy (Un-Attached Ulster)
- Rachel Hardman (Forth Velo)
- Berdien Driscoll (Un-attached Munster)
- Richard Barry (St. Finbarrs CC)
- Colin Clavin (Streamstown Cycling Club)
- Keane Ryan (Four Masters CC)
- Liam Dunne (Un-Attached Leinster)
- Bryan Geary (St Tiernan’s Cycling Club)
- Conor Verbruggen (Bray Wheelers)
- Finn McHenry (The Cycling Academy)
- Ian Inglis (Kinning Cycles Cycling Club)
- Tony Farrell (Bohermeen CC)
- Stuart Millar (Ards CC)
- Adam McConnell (Orwell Wheelers)