Spath confirms with second Irish national road race title
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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Spath confirms with second Irish national road race title

by Shane Stokes at 6:46 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, National Championships
McNamara and Costelloe net second and third in big sprint to the line

Mel SpathLast year she won through a perfectly timed surge from a small breakaway group; this time round, she shrugged off the burden of being defending champion and sped home at the head of a 21-strong front group. On a cool, sometimes wet day Melanie Spath (Team TIBCO) beat Siobhan McNamara (DID Electrical Racing Team), Mary Costelloe (Alliance Environmental) and eighteen others to take what was her second consecutive national road race title, and to underline her strong form.

Spath has been racing on the US circuit with the Tibco team and believes that she has progressed as a bike rider as a result. “Last year I just could not believe I had won. It was probably my biggest result ever, because it was my first year road racing properly. It was a big thing for me, amazing,” she told VeloNation after the finish. “I knew going into this race now that I would be the defending champion, I would be watched a lot more. It is very nice to pull it off as defending champion. I am very happy with that.”

She rode well during the race to monitor her main rivals, covering attacks from those competitors. She then positioned herself well coming into the finish, and had the strength to finish things off.

“On the last lap there were numerous attacks,” she said. “Olivia [Dillon] tried a few times. I tried and a few other girls tried. It was hard enough but because we knew nothing would get away in the last bit, the bunch kind of sat up and rolled towards the finish, almost taking up the whole road together. It was all about who was going to take the sprint.”

Others who were wary of her finishing kick tried to get clear earlier on but on a course lacking tough climbs, it was a difficult task. Riders such as the new time trial champion Caroline Ryan (Garda/Richie’s Bike Store), Mary Costelloe (Alliance Envionmental), Judith Russell (Phoenix CC) and Lydia Boylan (unattached) were amongst the most aggressive, but their efforts were all hauled back.

Former race winner Olivia Dillon (Novartis and Now) also rode well, but punctured at a bad time and had a tough chase back. This cost her energy and she ultimately had to be satisfied with fifteenth.

Runner-up Siobhan McNamara also had bike problems, but had a more straightforward time getting back on afterwards and had more left for the sprint as a result.

“I expected it to break up,” she said. “My saddle fell off during the race. It was lap three or lap four. I had to change bikes and get back on. On the same lap there was a crash I was stuck behind that, so I was pretty knackered afterwards.

“It was quite whittled down by the time we came in [for the finish]. I was thinking that I am normally not very comfortable in the bunch. I just kept cool, I thought that maybe a gap would open [for the sprint], and it did.”

At 22 years of age, Costelloe was one of the youngest riders in the bunch. As she did four years ago, she used her rapid finishing pace to net third. She said that she was satisfied with the result.

“I liked this circuit, I thought it was good,” she smiled. “Going into the last two laps that with the hills there would probably be a lot of attacks and I just need to try to stay with them as I was hoping for a bunch sprint.

“I tried to keep on Melanie Spath’s wheel during the sprint. I didn’t have enough to come around her but I’m happy with third.”

How the race unfolded:

A total of 48 riders lined out for the 2013 women’s road race championships in Carlingford, starting several minutes after a very heavy shower. With wet roads but dry skies, they raced out of the town for the first of seven 12.8 kilometre laps of a mainly flat to undulating circuit.

Last year’s champion Mel Spath (Team Tibco) was the first attacker of the day, but was brought back soon after the start. She has been racing on the US circuit this year and has been performing strongly. Other attacks followed, but the bunch kept a tight rein on things.

Mary Costelloe (Alliance Envionmental) and Judith Russell (Phoenix CC) clipped away after eleven kilometres and opened a fifteen second gap.

This went to half a minute, but dropped down to twelve seconds. Costelloe was caught sixteen kilometres after the start, having scaled the climb on the second lap, but Russell remained out front. She was then reeled in. Lydia Boylan (unattached) went clear and was joined soon afterwards by Sandra Fitzgerald (Garda/Richies). They too were reeled in, as were several subsequent efforts by others.

As occurred in previous years, there were many lulls in the pace, with the strongest riders being closely marked by the others.

After 32 kilometres, Costelloe decided to try once again and jumped clear. She was joined once again by Russell, and together they built a gap of twenty seconds. They were chased soon afterwards by Eve McCrystal (Garda CC/Richies Bike Store), but she was temporarily hampered by what seemed to be a bike problem.

Everything came back together 35 kilometres after the start, after which the riders headed back towards the finish for the end of the third lap. Lydia Boylan (unattached) was next to attack and held a small advantage after 42 kilometres.

She was caught and then Fran Meehan (Aqua Blue) accelerated clear. The bunch reacted, though, realising that she was strong and therefore also dangerous. After she was reeled in Roisin Kennedy (Adamstown Cycling Team), Judith Russell (Phoenix CC), Lydia Boylan (unattached) and Rachel Withers (West Tyrone Velo) jumped clear but once again the reaction was fast.

National time trial champion Caroline Ryan (Garda CC/Richies Bike Store) and Boylan then surged ahead, driving hard to try to make their move stick. They rounded a wet left hand turn and while they negotiated without problems, several riders clashed in the bunch and caused a split.

The peloton came back together several minutes later and, after 51 kilometres of racing, Ryan and Boylan were twenty seconds clear. This grew to 26 seconds, dropped to eighteen and then opened up again. However it had petered to twelve seconds after sixty kilometres.

The strong wind before the finish then burned up the remaining dregs of their energy and, with two laps to go, they were caught.

The peloton remained en masse for most of the penultimate lap, with an attack by Fran Meehan being unsuccessful.

On the final lap, Caroline Ryan attacked repeatedly on the rolling drags and succeeded in opening a gap. The new time trial champion sought to use her solo strength to stay clear, but she was closed down by the others. Several others tried to jump clear but a bunch sprint was inevitable. With Spath feeling good and placing herself well, she blasted home ahead of Siobhan McNamara and Mary Costelloe for her second consecutive championships win.

Irish women’s road race championship, Carlingford:

1, Melanie Spath (Team TIBCO) 91 kilometres in 2 hours 29 mins 8 secs
2, Siobhan McNamara (DID Electrical Racing Team)
3, Mary Costelloe (Alliance Environmental)
4, Lydia Boylan (Unattached)
5, Tonya Moran (Black Rose Racing)
6, Caroline Ryan (Garda CC/Richies Bike Store)
7, Claire Oakley (WXC World Racing)
8, Fiola Foley (Killorglin CC / Team Steiner Backerei Argon18)
9, Eve McCrystal (Garda CC/Richies Bike Store)
10, Isabel Cogan (Orwell Wheelers)
11, Michelle Geoghegan (Endura Lady Force WW Zeeuws-Vlaanderen)
12, Janine McNally (North Down CC)
13, Kerri Campbell (Newry Wheelers)
14, Judith Russell (Phoenix CC)
15, Olivia Dillon (NOW & Novartis for MS)
16, Emma Walsh (Dungarvan Cycling Club)
17, Anne Dalton (DID Electrical Racing Team)
18, Fran Meehan (Aqua Blue)
19, Ciara MacManus (Unattached)
20, Therese Smyth (Phoenix CC)
21, Anne Keohane (De Ronde Van Cork C.C.) all same time
22, Roisin Kennedy (Adamstown Cycling Team) at 32 secs
23, Fiona Guihen (Navan Road Club) at 1 min 20 secs
25, Kate Rudd (Black Rose Racing) at 6 mins 41 secs
26, Niamh Stephens (UCD CC) same time
27, Julie White (North Tipperary Wheelers) at 9 mins 25 secs
28, Lucy Soden (Orwell Wheelers) same time
29, Sandra Telford (Orwell Wheelers) at 12 mins 19 secs
30, Teresa O’Sullivan (Beara CC) at 17 mins 19 secs
31, Karen Hull (Phoenix CC) at 18 mins 7 secs
32, Gretta O’Connor (Cuchulainn CC) at 19 mins 4 secs
33, Evan Bartley (Lakeland CC) same time


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