Linda Kelly and Daire Feeley picked up victories in round six of the 2023 Road National Series at the Mullingar Grand Prix on Sunday, July 16th.
Hosted by Lakeside Wheelers, The Mullingar Grand Prix brought riders around the scenic roads of Multyfarnham and Lough Derravaragh in Co. Westmeath.
Jemma Speers took over the overall leader’s jersey in the senior women’s category while all other leaders held on to their jerseys ahead of the final round next month.
In the women’s race, a strong pace in the opening lap meant that no early breakaway could separate themselves from a bunch of 23 riders.
Taking on two laps of a 34km circuit that features a short 300m climb to the finish and an initial hilly section, the race began to break up inside the final lap as Kelly made her move.
Unfortunately, as the riders approached the finish to take on the final lap, there was a crash that saw several riders fall with five riders bowing out of the race.
Aliyah Rafferty, Mya Doocey, Jennifer Bates, Heather Foley and Josephine Lynch didn’t continue.
At the front of the race, Kelly soon made her move as she was joined by Orla Walsh with 30km to go. The leaders soon became a trio as Sienna O’Dwyer bridged across.
But Kelly put on the pressure once again to ride away from O’Dwyer and Walsh on the next of the short climbs, and set a strong pace to make a charge for solo victory.
The chasers took a few kilometers to get organised behind, and eventually caught Walsh and O’Dwyer to form a group of eleven chasers including Jennifer Neenan and Jemma Speers.
But the chasers began to look at each other in a race for the podium places as Kelly quickly built up a lead of over two minutes.
UCD Cycling Club took the podium places as Clodagh Ní Ghallchóir powered up the final kick to the line ahead of Orla Walsh.
Hannah Hayes retains her lead in the junior category as the only junior rider in action. Rhiannon Dolan impressed in fourth place as the highest placed finisher of five youth riders.
Linda Kelly said, “The first lap it was hard to get away. With one lap to go, anywhere the road went up that’s where I said I’ll take a chance there and go for it. The legs felt really good today and I just looked behind me (after an attack) and saw there was a one or two meter gap that kept going. 15 or 20km on my own then solo, I went straight down on the drops.”
Jemma Speers, new Road National Series Senior Women overall leader, said, “It’s nice, the consistency has paid off and just ticking away. It’s nice to take the lead and a bit of motivation going into the final round. It’ll be a tough one (to keep the leader’s jersey) but it’s always quite fun when it’s a bit of a challenge.”
In the men’s race, the bunch stayed together for the majority of the race – with a strong pace ensuring that sporadic attacks off the front weren’t given much of a leash.
However, a decisive move with just under a lap to go saw Daire Feeley, Liam Crowley, Jamie Meehan and Eoin Kelly made a breakaway that crossed the finish for the final lap with a small gap on a group of around a dozen chasers.
Kelly soon lost contact with the leaders as they held a gap varying from 30 to 45 seconds heading into the final 10km.
Luke Smith, Javan Nulty and Darnell Moore proved the strongest from the chasing group, but they couldn’t close the gap in the final kilometers as the trio prepared to contest the win.
Meehan put in two attacks in the final two kilometers but it was Feeley who could hold the wheel and had the final punch in the run up to the line to take the victory.
Feeley’s win means he closes the gap to series leader Conn McDunphy ahead of the final round. Killian O’Brien stays in the junior overall leader’s jersey as no juniors entered due to the ongoing Junior Tour of Ireland.
Daire Feeley said, “We had to work hard for that win! There were a couple of points where I was saying to myself ‘Will I be happy with second or third?’. I managed to get out of my own head, pull it together and take the win so I can’t complain.
“It was touch and go because that chase group behind were very strong – it was the main horsepower left in the race chasing us down. Thankfully Liam (Crowley) and Jamie (Meehan) committed and we managed to hold it off in the end. I was unsure if I was going to be able to beat Jamie to the finish, but thankfully I played my cards right.”
More information on the 2023 Road National Series can be found here.
Road National Series Round Six Results
- Daire Feeley (All Human/VeloRevolution)
- Jamie Meehan (Brocar Ale)
- Liam Crowley (UCD Cycling Club)
- Luke Smith (Moynalty Cycling Club)
- Javan Nulty (Un-Attached Leinster)
- Darnell Moore (Team Caldwell Cycles)
- Ruairi Byrne (UCD Cycling Club)
- Cillian Murphy (Galway Bay CC)
- Cian Keogh (Team Skyline)
- Jason Kenny (UCD Cycling Club)
- Linda Kelly (Spin The Bean Power By Coffee)
- Clodagh Ní Ghallchóir (UCD Cycling Club)
- Orla Walsh (UCD Cycling Club)
- Rhiannon Dolan (TC Racing)
- Greta Lawless (Team WORC)
- Jemma Speers (North Down CC)
- Jennifer Neenan (UCD Cycling Club)
- Deirdre Hynes (West Clare CC)
- Lorna Farrell (Lynx CC)
- Kate Murphy (Sliabh Luachra Cycling Club)