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TQ Paper International Two Day - NE
Ireland, October 4-5, 2003
Reporting by Shane Stokes/Irishcycling.com
Hunter on the rampage
British rider Angela Hunter is just one stage away from repeating her 1996 win in the TQ Papers International two day after a dominant performance on the opening day of the race. The GS Strada rider was one of the most aggressive on the opening 64 kilometre circuit race, breaking clear during the wind-buffeted stage yet retaining enough strength after being reeled in by the peloton to thunder to a fine victory in the bunch sprint. Second place went to Dutchwoman Inge Klep, a stage winner in 2002, while Hibernian Team Ireland's Collette Swift was third.
Hunter defended her yellow jersey in the best possible fashion in the afternoon's 2 kilometre time trial, setting off last and eclipsing the times set by the strongest of the other riders. Riding a time trial machine kitted out with aero bars plus front and rear aero wheels, she underlined her fine condition by cleaving through the stiff headwind to finish just over ten seconds clear of Cycling Ulster's Cheryl Fisher, with the rest of the field further in arrears.
Hunter's campaign started with that strong ride this morning, showing great recovery to bounce back from the fatigue of her solo breakaway effort and win the bunch gallop. The stage was characterised by a number of relatively short-lived attacks by strong riders, who succeeded in opening up decent gaps over the main field but were then worn down by the strong winds gusting around the exposed course. Team Luciano's Ruth Gamwell was the first to establish a significant lead when she got 28 seconds on lap three, but sat up after the strong headwind saw her advantage being to drop.
Leinster - Usher Insulations rider Siobhan Jacob went clear shortly afterwards and got twenty seconds, but despite the efforts of Cycling Ulster's Cheryl Fisher to bridge the gap and add some more firepower to the effort, the main field were back on terms by the midway point of lap four. Angela Hunter quickly counterattacked and built a lead of ten seconds, only for her solo bid to end two kilometres into lap five.
A subsequent jump by RC Charlottenburg rider Liane Gaffron saw the German begin the most dangerous move of the day. She was joined by young Dutchwoman Sanne Hokke three kilometres later and the two pooled their efforts to open up a thirty-five second lead. Riding strongly together, they stayed clear for almost two laps but once again the combined strength of the main bunch proved too much. Eight kilometres into the escape Gaffron upped the pace, Hokke lost the wheel, and by the time the race started the final lap both were back in the shelter of the peloton.
One final attempt by Dutchwoman Sharon Van Essen followed. Yet once again the bunch overcame the move, setting the scene for a sprint finish and Hunter's fine victory over Inge Klep (Netherlands - Moving Ladies Groenewoud), Collette Swift (Hibernian Team Ireland), Diane Moss (Team Luciano) and the rest of the field. Also worth noting was Grace McNally's (Leinster - Usher Insulations) ninth place on the stage, a fine ride by the sixteen year old who upgraded to junior status so she could ride the race.
With the first stage done and dusted, Hunter had a break of a couple of hours before the afternoon's two kilometre time trial. The time bonus for her stage one win had left her just two seconds clear at the top, but this translated into a more commanding lead after a storming ride in the wind-blasted race against the clock. Hunter covered the distance in 3 minutes 37 seconds, the time showing the extent of the headwind, while Cycling Ulster's Cheryl Fisher was second and CC Luton rider Julie O'Hagan third.
The result means that Hunter is now fifteen seconds clear of Fisher in the overall standings with O'Hagan a further five seconds in arrears. It has been an exceptional opening day for the GS Strada rider; two stage wins, the yellow jersey and the lead in the points classification ensure that she goes into tomorrow's toughest leg of the race as the clear favourite to win. Whether she manages to do that or not depends on her ability to fend off the many expected attacks, a task made all the more difficult by a lack of team-mates.
"I was in very good form earlier this year," said a pleased Hunter this evening. "I won just about every race I entered at the start of the season. I was unfortunately ill at the national track championships, where I was trying to defend my wins in the points and scratch races. I didn't get to compete but knew I was coming back to form when I won the points race at the world masters championships."
"I wasn't sure how I would do in this event as I hadn't raced in the last three weeks, but felt good today. I have a fast sprint so could have waited until the finish of stage one, but decided to try to open up a bit of a time gap over the other riders. As it turned out, the wind was too strong and they got me back, but I had enough left to take the sprint and the yellow jersey."
Hunter dominates TQ Paper International
Race leader Angela Hunter stamped her authority on the final stage of the TQ Paper International Ladies two-day today, continuing her dominant showing in the race. Hunter won both of yesterday's stages, a 64 kilometre road race and a 2 kilometre time trial, and today capped off her overall victory in great style when she sprinted home first at the end of the concluding 74 kilometre third stage. Dutchwoman Inge Klep (Netherlands - Moving Ladies Groenewoud) finished second and Ireland's Collette Swift third, a repeat of the race result from yesterday's opening stage.
Hunter went into the concluding leg of the race with a fifteen second lead and as expected, was soon put under pressure. Two kilometres after the start, Kate Rudd began what was to be twenty-five kilometres of attack and counter-attack by herself and Hibernian Ireland team-mate Marie Reilly, each acceleration ramping up the speed and causing a furious chase behind. Hunter was clearly on a good day, however; although the GS Strada rider appeared to be aided at times by girls from other UK teams, she did much of the chasing herself and ensured that the efforts by Rudd and Reilly came to naught.
On the approach to Stamullen village, Holland District Noord's Esther Kassing rode clear and opened up a ten second lead on the bunch. Pouring out the effort, she fought to build the gap on the hilly roads leading out the other side of the village, but once onto the gruelling slopes of Snowtown Hill the bunch drew inexorably closer and steadily reeled her in.
Driven by the slender climbers Nina Davis (Team Letchworth Extran Bikeshow) and Catherine Hare (Team Luciano), a six rider group then pulled clear of the splintering main field, and towards the top Davis, Hare, Hunter, Sharon Van Essen (Netherlands - Moving Ladies Groenewoud), Collette Swift and Louise Moriarty (both Hibernian Team Ireland) had a promising lead. An impressive Moriarty jumped away at the crest to take full points in the Queen of the Hills classification, then joined forces once more with the other five riders to try to stay clear.
The six sped onwards towards the climb of the Naul, preserving a twenty second advantage over the group chasing hard behind but lost some of their momentum when Davis and Hare dropped their chains on this final climb. Both riders were able to get going again but their chance had passed; they were overtaken by the chasers, who also got back on terms with the remaining four riders shortly afterwards.
Although Hunter had expended some amount of energy out front, the expect attacks from her closest rivals such as Cheryl Fisher (Cycling Ulster) never came. Instead, Fisher went to the front of this nineteen-strong leading group and drove it towards the finish, electing to preserve her second place rather than aiming for first. The decision was understandable in ways as this was her first major stage race, but given the strength she showed today and her excellent second place in yesterday's time trial, it is clear that once her confidence and experience grows she will be a serious force in cycling.
The front group stayed together all the way to the finish line, where once again the stage was decided in a bunch sprint. Unbelievably, it was Hunter again who took the honours, thundering home a length clear of Klep, Swift, Davis and Moriarty to win in real style. Three stage wins, the yellow jersey and the win in the points classification; little wonder she was pleased after the race.
"I am very happy to have done so well," she said. "I won here in 1996 but the standard and size of the field have both grown since then. I have ridden the race four times but this is the best - I am amazed at how many riders there were. In Britain we would be lucky to get a field of thirty or forty. The standard really has gone up."
"Coming over here, I was hoping to win the race but I never imagined I would win three stages. I thought I might struggle a bit in the time trial as it was just two kilometres…I like long time trials, but that seemed a bit short for me. Today's stage had a lot of attacking at the start, with the Irish girls try to get clear. I was happy once I was in the break as we were all working equally. I felt good so I didn't mind doing my share. There wasn't really any problem when we were caught - it all stayed together and I had good legs for the sprint."
Third-placed Nina Davis was also impressed by this year's race. "I thought it was a really good event and it was great to see so many people here. The organisation was superb. I felt good today and got clear in the break, but my chain came off at a bad time. I was able to get into the front group so it worked out fine in the end."
Besides the obvious satisfaction of the competitors with the race, there was another big plus for Irish cycling this weekend. A large number of Irish women took part, showing that the efforts of people such as Valerie Considine (of Cycling Ireland's women's commission) is starting to pay off. The hope is that the scene will continue to grow and that the Irish women will continue to ride well against strong foreign competition. Fisher's second place was a fine result, as was the performances of riders such as Swift (fifth overall and third on two stages), Susan O'Mara (Leinster - Usher Insulations, seventh overall) and Louise Moriarty, who won the Queen of the Mountains classification. In addition, the Leinster - Usher Insulations squad were best in the team competition.
"It was a very encouraging race," said Valerie Considine. "The turnout was great and it was a big boost to see so many Irish girls take part. Hopefully we can build on this and the women's scene will continue to grow next year."
Images by Shane Stokes/www.irishcycling.com
Stage 1 - October 4: Boot Inn circuit race, 64 km
Stage 2 - October 4: Dublin Airport ITT, 2 km
Stage 3 - October 5: North County Dublin Road race, 74 km
1 Angie Hunter (GS Strada) 1.46.07 2 Inge Klep (Netherlands - Moving Ladies Groenewoud) 3 Collette Swift (Hibernian Team Ireland) 4 Diane Moss (Team Luciano) 5 Esther Kassing (Holland - District Noord) 6 Nina Davis (Team Letchworth Extran Bikeshow) 7 Janet Tebutt (Team Letchworth Extran Bikeshow) 8 Judith Helmink (Netherlands - Moving Ladies Groenwoud) 9 Grace McNally (Leinster - Usher Insulations) 10 Cheryl Fisher (Cycling Ulster)
1 Angie Hunter (GS Strada) 3.37.47 2 Cheryl Fisher (Cycling Ulster) 10.45 3 Julie O'Hagan (CC Luton) 15.76 4 Nina Davis (Team Letchworth Extran Bikeshow) 5 Diane Moss (Team Luciano) 22.51 6 Siobhan Jacob (Leinster - Usher Insulations) 23.84 7 Collette Swift (Hibernian Team Ireland) 26.95 8 Mary McKee (Cycling Ulster) 28.40 9 Susan O'Mara (Leinster - Usher Insulations) 29.58 10 Karen Lovatt (Team Luciano) 29.94 General classification after stage 2 1 Angie Hunter (GS Strada) 1.49.39 2 Cheryl Fisher (Cycling Ulster) 0.15 3 Julie O'Hagan (CC Luton) 0.21 4 Nina Davis (Team Letchworth Extran Bikeshow) 0.25 5 Diane Moss (Team Luciano) 0.27 6 Siobhan Jacob (Leinster - Usher Insulations) 0.29 7 Collette Swift (Hibernian Team Ireland) 0.31 8 Mary McKee (Cycling Ulster) 0.33 9 Susan O'Mara (Leinster - Usher Insulations) 0.35 10 Karen Lovatt (Team Luciano)
1 Angela Hunter (GS Strada) 2.09.05 2 Inge Kelp (Netherlands - Moving Ladies Groenewoud) 3 Collette Swift (Hibernian Team Ireland) 4 Nina Davis (Team Letchworth Extran Bikeshow) 5 Louise Moriarty (Hibernian Team Ireland) 6 Diane Moss (Team Luciano) 7 Catherine Hare (Team Luciano) 8 Beth McCluskey (Leinster - Usher Insulations) 9 Rebecca Milbourn (Evans Cycles RT) 10 Janet Tebutt (Team Letchworth Extran Bikeshow) Final classification after stage 3 1 Angela Hunter (GS Strada) 3.58.09 2 Cheryl Fisher (Cycling Ulster) 0.20 3 Nina Davis (Team Letchworth Extran Bikeshow) 0.30 4 Diane Moss (Team Luciano) 0.32 5 Collette Swift (Hibernian Team Ireland) 0.35 6 Inge Kelp (Netherlands - Moving Ladies Groenewoud) 0.39 7 Susan O'Mara (Leinster - Usher Insulations) 0.40 8 Karen Lovatt (Team Luciano) 9 Janet Tebutt (Team Letchworth Extran Bikeshow) 0.41 10 Sharon Van Essen (Netherlands - Moving Ladies Groenwoud) Mountains classification 1 Louise Moriarty (Hibernian Team Ireland) 10 pts 2 Sharon Van Essen (Netherlands - Moving Ladies Groenwoud) 6 3 Angela Hunter (GS Strada) 3 4 Susan O'Mara (Leinster - Usher Insulations) 2 6 Catherine Hare (Team Luciano) 1 Points classification 1 Angela Hunter (GS Strada) 30 2 Collette Swift (Hibernian Team Ireland) 20 3 Nina Davis (Team Letchworth Extran Bikeshow) 19 4 Diane Moss (Team Luciano) 18 5 Inge Kelp (Netherlands - Moving Ladies Groenewoud) 18 6 Cheryl Fisher (Cycling Ulster) 10 Junior rider classification 1 Liesbeth Bakker (Holland - District Noord) Team classification (calculated by points) 1 Leinster - Usher Insulations 236 pts 2 Team Luciano 220 3 Ireland 210