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Irish Championships - CN

Carrick on Suir, Ireland, June 29-July 1, 2007

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Day 2 - June 30: Elite women, Veterans road race

Dervan nets third consecutive Irish title

By Shane Stokes

Defending champion Siobhan Dervan put in an excellent performance on Saturday in Carrick on Suir, taking her third successive road race title. The Lotto - Belisol rider was clearly strongest of the women in the 80 kilometre event, joining up to lone breakaway rider Jenny Fay halfway around the second of three laps, then pressing on ahead with approximately fourteen kilometres to go.

Dervan rode Fay off her wheel on the long climb of Carney's Road and then time-trialed from there to the finish. She crossed the line 3 minutes and 30 seconds ahead of the Rapha Condor rider Fay. Approximately four minutes later last year's runner-up Louise Moriarty (UCD Global Racing Winning Solutions) outsprinted Julie O'Hagan (Rapha Condor) and Heather Wilson (Maryland Wheelers) to secure bronze. Roisin Kennedy (Stagg's Lucan) and Jane Kilmartin (Rapha Condor) were sixth and seventh.

Dervan agreed that this was the most dominant of the three. "I guess so...last year I barely won it [in a sprint] and the year before I think the gap was just over a minute, a minute five or ten or something like that." [editor's note - in 2005 she was 1 minute and 2 seconds ahead of Trudy Brown (Northern Dave Kane). Bronze medallist Moriarty was six seconds further back.]

"I knew that if I could pick the course beforehand, this would have been perhaps my ideal circuit. The only thing I would have changed is to put in an uphill finish as well. But I was happy with the circuit anyway, I knew I would have a good chance here."

Dervan, Rapha Condor team-mates Fay, O'Hagan and Jane Kilamartin, Moriarty and Wilson went clear of the rest of the field approximately halfway around the first of three laps. Roisin Kennedy (Stagg's Lucan) and Francine Meehan (Laois) were chasing hard together until the latter crashed on a corner; Kennedy managed to close the remainder of the gap by herself.

Fay had escaped before the second ascent of the tough Carney's Road climb and, not wanting her to build up too big a lead, Dervan pushed the pace on the hill. Kennedy was first to lose contact, then Kilmartin also had to let go.

Dervan continued to push hard and her strength was apparent when she rode the others off her wheel just before the top, then quickly closed up on Fay.

Moriarty set off on pursuit on the descent after the climb but she was closed down by O'Hagan and Wilson . There was a clear lack of co-operation in this second group, with O'Hagan soft pedalling through [due to her team-mate up the road] and Moriarty shouting at Wilson to ride with her.

The gap was 1 minute and 5 seconds at start of last lap and continued to grow. Dervan and Fay were working well together but this co-operation ended when the defending champion ramped up the speed on the climb, hitting the top 45 seconds clear and then riding strongly from there until the finish.

"Jenny attacked very early on in the second lap and nobody would do any riding," she explained. "I felt I was doing most of the work behind, to be honest, and Louise did a bit too. I was shouting at everybody to try and ride. Obviously her team-mates wouldn't, which is fair enough. When I got to the bottom of the climb I rode on the front the whole way up to the top. I said to myself, 'well, why am I dragging these around?', so that is why I attacked and went across to her by myself.

"I was confident enough that I was going well. The first time of the climb I felt very strong...I gathered I was probably the strongest at that point. The next time round, Jenny had been out on her own for half a lap by that stage. I could see her ahead and knew from her position on the bike that she was suffering on the climb. I felt comfortable so I jumped across to her no problem. In fairness we rode fairly well together; she rode hard on the downhills and the flats, and I rode on the uphills."

Dervan said that she hadn't originally intended to drop her the last time up the hill. "We had said that we would ride together until the turn off the main road and then we would see what happened. But as it turned out, I think her team instructions were not to ride with me because they knew I would be stronger than her on the hill. I didn't actually attack, I just upped the tempo a small bit. But I am absolutely thrilled that she was able to hold off the main bunch and get second."

Fay said she was very pleased with silver, her second such medal in two days. "I am overwhelmed, I am absolutely delighted with today's result. I think after racing last week in France for five days, my body was adjusted so that after the time trial last night I had the legs to come out again and have form today.

"Today and yesterday were probably my big goals of the year, apart from getting to the worlds. I had to prove myself after the year I have had and I am happy to have realised that.

"We were working has a team today, myself, Julie and Jane. We decided that one of us would go early and make everybody else work. I probably went a bit early, but I was prepared to bury myself if I had every else working in the group behind me to get across. The plan worked anyway. I just kept riding and stayed away, and when Siobhan got across to me, we worked together. Then in the end, she was just stronger than me on the climb."

She also said that they had been planning to stay together until closer to the finish. "But because I had gone early and spent a long time away on my own, I was beginning to wither a bit. She just rode away from me on the hill. I probably did the majority of the stronger work on the flats because I'm not exactly a mountain goat. She was doing the hills. We worked pretty well together and then I was getting gaps towards the end. When Siobhan had gone it was just up to me then to time trial and to stay away."

Moriarty was second last year but had to settle for bronze this time. However she won Friday's time trial ahead of Fay and Wilson; two medals made the weekend a success.

"It was really nice to get the win in the time trial. I was very surprised to have been in front of Siobhan in the time trial, given what happened in the road race.

"Today, I think the strongest two people came out in front of me," she said graciously. "Siobhan was climbing the strongest of everyone, and Rapha Condor had it sewn up with three in the initial break. I guess they worked us over a bit, it was hard to get a rhythm going behind. But Jenny was very strong as well, they fully deserved it."

Like many of the riders in the women's and veteran's championships, Moriarty wasn't sure of the logic of having the time trial on Friday evening and the road race less than 24 hours later. "I didn't sleep very well, so that wouldn't have helped. But I think they are bit too close together, to have the time trial so late. Even if they have the time trial in the afternoon it might give people a better chance.

"But I guess all the women were in the same boat, it is whoever recovers the best," she added.

Moriarty next does a track race in Italy on July 4th and then goes to the European track championships on July 11th and 12th. As she and the other women have shown, the standard now is considerably higher than it was two or three years ago.

O'Loughlin takes home win in veterans' championship

Soloing in to a finish line less than a kilometre from both his house and the one where he grew up, local rider Martin O'Loughlin took his first ever individual national title on Saturday when he won the veterans' road race championship.

The Dan Morrissey Carrick Wheelers rider was part of a breakaway group in the race and attacked strongly on the Carney's Road climb on the last of four laps. O'Loughlin hit the line 1 minute 30 seconds ahead of a group containing silver medallist Sean Bracken (Usher IRC) and Andre Engermann (St. Tiernans).

"It is brilliant to win this," the schoolteacher said after receiving the national champion's jersey. "Coming in the road I have been training on for the past 27 years was great, and so too knowing that I could soft pedal for the last three or four miles.

"I expected to do well today because of the level I have been racing at for the past 11 years and also the fact that I am one of the youngest vets in the country. I wanted to win my championship before Rory Wyley [senior 1 team-mate] turns vet next year!"

He explained his tactics, saying that he set out to chip away at his opponents' reserves. "It is a very, very tough course and we were doing four laps of that. So my tactics were just to make it as hard as possible. Every time on the hill I set a hard tempo to wear fellows down. I was in the leading group on the last lap and just gave it everything the final time up the hill. I got a minute and half and then kept it going.

"It's actually the first individual all Ireland I have won. I took a few team titles in time trials and on the road, but I've never won the individual before."

The location of the race adds to his satisfaction, and so too the fact that he had some special support. "My parents live on the run in to the finish and they are here today. They bought me my first bike back in 1980, paying 230 pounds for it. That was a lot of money for a Mercian back then. It is good to see that I've repayed that now!"

Runner up Sean Bracken won the Irish championships in 2001, 2002 and 2003. "I was fifth last year and ninth or tenth the year before," he said, "so I am happy to back up there again. I am 47 in a few weeks and was starting to think I was on the way down!"

"It was a great course, a lot of coming and going and a hard bunch of 50 or 60."

How it unfolded

Fifty-six riders started the race and he gave details of how the action unfolded: "On the first lap two fellows went away, Seamus Kelly and Tommy Wilson. On the second lap four of us got across to them on the hill...Laurent Dumoulin, myself, Sean McIlroy and another rider. On the top of the hill two more got across to us - Martin O'Loughlin and Andre Engermann. That meant there were eight of us together starting the third lap.

"However, about two or three miles into that lap, a group of about ten or eleven came back up to us. That meant there were about 18 or 19 of us hitting the hill the third time. There were a few splits on the climb and Martin jumped away again. He was wound in at the top. Just after Sky Hill, the big drag on the main road, six got away. Myself and Sean Gray were chasing and we got across starting the fourth lap."

Bracken said that the group was made up of the first seven past the finish line, plus Gray. However the latter lost his place in the group when his chain dropped off and then he cramped.

"Martin attacked us at the viewing place before the main climb but we got back up to him," he continued. "He attacked us twice on the main climb, and the second time we couldn't hold him. That had Martin on his own going over the top of the climb and six of us about a minute back. Nothing happened until Sky Hill, I got away with a Wexford fellow there [Conor O'Crualaoich]. He is only racing a year and a half or so but he is strong.

"About three miles later he got dropped and Engermann got across to me with a Carrick fellow sitting on. The others then got back up, so there were six of us sprinting for second. I went with about 300 to go and that was it."

St. Tiernan's club rider Engermann is a first year veteran and made a good debut in taking bronze. He felt that the winner played it well, in terms of tactics. "Martin O'Loughlin was being marked very, very heavily each lap but I think he was actually bluffing during the race. He was making these massive attacks, going maybe 40 seconds up the road and being caught again. Every time we went around the hairpin turn at the start of hill he attacked. The last time he attacked twice as hard and fast as before, so he was clearly holding something back until the end. He must have been bluffing during the race because he fooled all of us. He went the last time and didn't come back.

"He actually dropped off the back of the group to have a chat with one of the motorbike drivers and then went in what must have been a 53 x 12 on the hill!"

"The idea was to force everyone else to ride hard," confirmed O'Loughlin. "If they were as tired as I was coming into the last lap, I felt confident that I would be stronger on the hill."

Engermann explained the final few kilometres. "Sean Bracken and myself got away after that. Leslie O'Donnell was sitting on us, not working because Martin was up the road. I told him to work with us because we weren't going to get Martin back, but he wouldn't do so. We got caught again and it came to a sprint finish.

"Sean got second. He was going very well today. He hasn't really been going well all year, but he was savagely strong today."

O'Loughlin's victory plus the fifth place of O'Donnell and Sean McIlroy's 13th saw him take another prize; for the fourth year running, the Dan Morrissey Carrick Wheelers club took the team award.


Women - 80 km
1 Siobhan Dervan (Lotto – Bodisol)                                     2.28.00
2 Jenny Fay (Rapha Condor)                                                3.30
3 Louise Moriarty (UCD Global Racing Winning Solutions)                   7.29
4 Julie O'Hagan (Rapha Condor)                                                
5 Heather Wilson (Maryland Wheelers)                                          
6 Roisin Kennedy (Stagg's Lucan)                                              
7 Jane Kilmartin (Rapha Condor)                                               
8 Adrienne McCarthy (Limerick)                                                
9 Sarah Piner (Mullingar Wheelers)                                            
10 Heather Boyle (Ravens)                                                     
11 Fiona Meade (St. Finbarr's)                                                
Veterans - 108 km
1 Martin O'Loughlin (Dan Morrissey Carrick Wheelers)                   3.03.00
2 Sean Bracken (Usher IRC)                                                1.30
3 Andre Engermann (St. Tiernans)                                              
4 Laurent Dumoulin (Kanturk Credit Union)                                     
5 Leslie O'Donnell (Dan Morrissey Carrick Wheelers)                           
6 Conor O'Crualaoich (Wexford Wheelers)                                       
7 Noel McCarthy (Fermoy CC)                                                   
8 T. Boyle (Slane Cycles)                                                     
9 Gary Scott (Audi East Antrim)                                               
10 Peter McConville (Newry Wheelers)                                          
11 Martin Phillips (Limerick CC)                                              
12 T. Wilson (Ballymena)                                                      
13 Sean McIlroy (Dan Morriseey Carrick Wheelers)                              
1 Dan Morrissey (O'Loughlin, O'Donnell, McIlroy)