Team Ireland’s Mia Griffin powered to her second stage win of this year’s Rás na mBan in County Waterford this afternoon, again demonstrating her sprinting prowess to secure the victory.
The Kilkenny native led home Queen of the Mountains jersey wearer Manon de Boer of NWVG-Uplus, with the Dutch rider closely followed by DAS-handsling’s Monica Greenwood.
In the General Classification contest, NWVG-Uplus’s Rixt Hoogland’s fourth place finish today vaulted her back above overnight leader Tiffany Keep of Hutchinson – Brother UK to regain the magenta jersey, having taken the lead in similar fashion after Stage 2.
Rás na mBan’s first visit to County Waterford saw riders greeted by another scorching day, with no better setting than the coastal town of Tramore.
The action started early with the first categorised climb coming after just 11 kilometres of racing. A narrowing of the road on the approach to the Kilmagemogue ascent resulted in a large crash in the middle of the bunch, bringing down over a dozen riders and forcing splits before the road even started rising.
A lead group of around 25 riders escaped the carnage, including all the classification leaders and jersey wearers who will be grateful they were in good position when the road narrowed.
A second group of similar size quickly formed behind in a bid to regain contact, bringing the gap to the leaders down to around 37 seconds.
AWOL rider and Irish National Time Trial Champion Kelly Murphy used the narrow gap to her advantage, instigating a move along with Sian March of Team Boompods and Beth Harley Jepson of Jadan Vive le Velo Glasdon, to bridge to the leading group. The trio’s huge effort was justified as the chasing group they escaped from never regained contact with the front of the race.
In the IVCA Wicklow 200 Queen of the Mountains classification, Manon de Boer continued her impressive run to lead over the top of the Category 2 ascent of Kilmagemogue. Those nine points put the outcome of that competition out of reach of nearest challenger Linda Kelly, despite the latter scoring maximum points on the final two Category 3 climbs of Rathinure Hill and Annestown.
De Boer’s work for the day wasn’t done, however, with the Dutch rider being one of several who tried to get clear of the leading group ahead of the finishing circuit in Tramore, only for those moves to be marked by those protecting their General Classification position, including magenta jersey Tiffany Keep.
Once on the final four kilometre circuit, Alba Development Team attempted to exert control of the group as one of the teams with multiple riders present, however it would prove to be in vain as Team Ireland’s Mia Griffin powered past the other contenders with the help of teammates Caoimhe and Aoife O’Brien. The sisters both held on for top 10 finishes on another memorable day for the national team, despite having just those three riders remaining in the race.
Another high placed finish from Rixt Hoogland in fourth helped move her back into the lead of the General Classification on countback, with Tiffany Keep’s eighth place reversing those positions for the second time in two days. The pair are two of six riders who remain level on time at the top of the standings going into tomorrow’s decisive time trial.
Hoogland’s higher place finish on today’s stage also moves her into the lead of the Cycling Ireland Points Classification, one point clear of Keep in second.
Sport Ireland Best Young Rider Renée van Hout of Team Noord Holland has opened up a slender lead in the under-23 classification, with nearest challenger Ruby Oakes of Shibden Hope Tech Apex losing five seconds on today’s stage.
Team Dan Morrissey Primor by Pissei’s Linda Kelly retained her lead at the top of the Kilkenny County Council Best Irish Rider Classification, after another strong performance today to finish in the lead group.
The stakes couldn’t be higher going into tomorrow morning’s 2.5 kilometre Stage 5 time trial around Kilkenny Castle, with six riders tied on the same time at the top of the overall classification, and several more just a matter of seconds behind.
A shakeup in the contest for the magenta jersey is highly expected in the time trial, with the afternoon criterium around Kilkenny City Centre likely to provide as much entertainment for spectators as it does jeopardy for the riders.