Ireland concluded the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships on Sunday, August 13th, as three riders took part in the Elite Women’s Road Race.
In a largely successful combined championship that saw Ireland represented in ten different championships, Ireland won eight medals – including two gold medals and a silver in the Para-cycling Road World Championships.
Katie George Dunlevy and Linda Kelly took gold in both the time trial and road race while Ronan Grimes took silver in the road race at the Para-cycling Road World Championships.
There were five medals in the Para-cycling Track World Championships, including double bronze for Grimes in the individual pursuit and scratch race, Richael Timothy won bronze in the omnium and scratch races while Dunlevy – partnered with Eve McCrystal on track – took a bronze medal in the individual pursuit.
Lara Gillespie, Megan Armitage and Alice Sharpe flew the Irish flag in the Elite Women’s Road Race as riders took on a 154km course that featured six laps of the technical Glasgow circuit. Gillespie was also in the U23 rider category incorporated as part of the elite race.
After a stalemate start to the day, the race split after around 40km as a large group were caught in a split in the peloton – with all three riders caught out.
An urgent chase followed, and that group were able to make their catch just before the entry to the circuit and in time for the main event to kick off.
An elite group of almost 40 riders soon distanced themselves from the rest in the subsequent laps as they ultimately contested the win – with Belgium’s Lotte Kopecky’s move in the final lap proving the winning ticket.
Behind, Sharpe was instrumental in helping Gillespie and Armitage embed themselves within the bunch – helping her teammates throughout the early laps of the circuit before dropping back after her job was done.
Armitage fought well to remain in the main chase group behind the big favourites, with Gillespie among riders to join that group as the rest of the field came together.
And in the final laps, with three under-23 riders up the road, over a dozen U23 riders – including Gillespie – in that group knew a race was on for top ten placings in that category.
It all came down to the final lap as many of those riders upped the pace. However, Gillespie suffered a gearing issue and was unable to fully contest the sprint for those placings.
After over four hours on the saddle, Gillespie came across the line in 68th place as Armitage followed seconds later to finish in 79th place.
Speaking after the race, Gillespie was happy with a battling performance but admitted that it was a tough day on the bike in a gruelling race, “To be honest, I got dropped before the climb even and I was suffering so bad. I had a really bad ear-ache and head-ache, I thought I was going to have to come out and when I started coming up the climb, I started to feel a bit better.
“I got back on on the descent and was in the main group and then the second main group caught the first main group and then I started to feel really good on the crit (circuit) but on the last lap there I just felt so sick and my gears were also messing up so I couldn’t even (sprint) – I saw Julie (de Wilde) attack on the Montrose hill and I was like: ‘That is where I should be’.”
Results – Sunday, August 13th
Elite Women Road Race:
Lara Gillespie – 68th (U23 – 14th)
Megan Armitage – 79th
Alice Sharpe – DNF