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Irish National Road Championships - CN
Stamullen, June 28-30, 2002
Day 2 - June 30: Road Races
By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent
The good times maybe on the way back for the former World Junior Cycling Champion, Mark Scanlon after today's scintillaing display in the National Road Race Championship held in Stamullen, Co. Meath. Mark was literally at the head of the event whren the flag dropped for the 96 mile event held over a very testing course in the area surrounding the Meath village.
In the end he won comfortably from the pre race favourite, Ciaran Power who it seems does not feel at ease when he assumes the mantle of favouritism. This was not the first occasion that the Waterford cyclist has been overturned in the championship because of his standing.
Next on the agenda for Mark is a tilt at the European's and the World's, and maybe in between may contest the Gamuda Eagle Tour of Malaysia in mid-August.
Gold for Scanlon
By Shane Stokes
Mark Scanlon may be just 21 years of age, he may have just recently returned to racing from the ankle injury which ruled him out of the FBD Milk Rás, but today the Sligo man showed another flash of the natural ability which earned him the 1998 World Junior Championships in Valkenburg when he won the National Road Race championships in Stamullen. Scanlon continued the upward progression which started with bronze in Cork two years ago and silver in Dundrod last June, racing clear in the closing miles to cross the line 1 minute and 17 seconds ahead of Ireland's highest-ranked professional rider Ciarán Power (Navigators) and his VC La Pomme team-mate Tommy Evans.
Fourth place went to the luckless David McCann (Volksbank Ideal) who started the day aiming to land his third consecutive national road race title but who saw his chances scuppered on the opening lap when he punctured twice. Despite losing a considerable amount of time, McCann showed his national TT winning-form of two days ago when he succeeded in closing back up to the main field, but by the time the Belfastman rejoined the peloton Scanlon, Power and Ofoto-Lombardi professional David O'Loughlin had flown the coop.
McCann tried repeatedly to get clear of the main bunch but was marked down each time; the only riders successful in their bid to bridge across to the leaders were Evans, Eugene Moriarty (Cycleways Lee Strand) and Brendan Doherty (Totalcycling.com), who closed the gap with three of the eight laps completed. Reinforcing the impression that the leading three had waited for reinforcements from behind, the front group accelerated once more and reopened up their advantage over a chasing group which included Stephen O'Sullivan (unattached), Mick O'Donnell (VC Quimperois), Philip Cassidy (Cycleways Lee Strand) and McCann.
Moriarty and Doherty were soon in difficulty, with the former losing contact before the main climb of Harbourstown and the latter suffering visibly, but for now managing to hold onto the wheels of his breakaway companions. Yet the next to go was surprisingly O'Loughlin, who hadn't appeared in difficulty but who pulled out after crossing the finish line for the fifth time.
Doherty's fragilities on the hill finally proved too much one lap later, the big Northern rider slipping backwards and fading out of contention as Power turned the screw up front. Evans too appeared under pressure, and when Power kicked on the final ascent of Harbourstown the VC La Pomme rider slipped backwards and looked to be in serious difficulties.
Evans dug deep and clawed his way back up to the leading duo, only to see Scanlon launch a stinging attack as they neared the crowd-lined summit and draw clear of a suddenly fragile-looking Power. The young Sligoman swiftly opened a lead but his older, more experienced pursuer reeled him back in after the descent to the Naul village and appeared in control once more. However with Evans chasing hard behind, Scanlon played the card of loyal team-mate and refused to work, swinging the odds in VC La Pomme's favour. Sure enough, once Evans rejoined he and Scanlon took it in turns to attack Power, who at that point appeared the strongest but was rapidly losing heart.
Scanlon went clear with about six miles remaining and while Power swiftly rejoined, his next attack on the Balscadden Hill was enough to open daylight between himself and the increasingly-frustrated Navigators rider. For a few moments it appeared that Power was letting Scanlon get a gap and was then planning on jumping, and leaving, Evans but the counterattack never came; while the 2002 FBD Milk Rás winner seemed to have the legs needed to drop his shadow, Power's aggression ebbed and he appeared to resign himself to the race for silver.
Up front, Scanlon put his head down and sped to an unassailable lead; he raced into the village of Stamullen over a minute clear of Power, who had little trouble in outsprinting Evans to take second. McCann was next home, having broken clear on the final lap in a belated - and ultimately ineffective - attempt to rejoin the leaders and secure that record third win. Andrew Donnellan (Dublin Wheelers) out-kicked Denis Lynch (VC La Pomme) to take fifth, but while the Marseille squad were clearly the most prominent today, the team prize went to Cycleways Lee Strand as they were the first Irish-registered group home.
Grinning broadly and congratulated by many in the crowd, Scanlon was pleased to win. 'Myself and Ciarán were out there all day and it is good to get the result after that', he said. 'Tommy was in a bit of difficulty the last time up the climb but once he got back up to us I thought that I had a good chance, as there were the two of us against Power. It took him a bit of time to get back up to me after the big hill, so I knew he was getting tired, and while he was able to bring us back a few times when we attacked him, I eventually got clear.'
'I am happy with the way things went. I wasn't sure how I would go today, I have only been racing a few weeks after getting over the ankle injury I had and while I was going well last weekend, I didn't know what to expect in this race.'
Power was disappointed, but realised that once Scanlon and Evans were in the break with him, they had the advantage. 'They started working me over coming in to the finish. There was nothing wrong with what they did it was good team tactics but unfortunately it made things very hard for me. I was able to close them down a few times, but knew that was going to happen all the way to the finish so there was little chance. Mark went clear again and that was it.'
By Shane Stokes
French-based Geraldine Gill (VC Quintin) made history today at the road race championships in Stamullen when she took her fourth consecutive national title with a storming solo display. Gill stamped her authority on the opening lap of the race, responding well to a series of attacks by Lorraine Manning (Usher IRC) and then going clear after four of the 36 miles had elapsed. Forging ahead on the first ascent of the tough Harbourstown climb, Gill's first effort drew Manning, Dublin Skip's Louise Moriarty and Colette Swift (Surrey League) clear of the rapidly fragmenting bunch, before she kicked again and swiftly opened a decisive gap over her floundering pursuers.
Riding strongly, her smooth high-cadence style carrying her rapidly along the undulating course, the 26 year old quickly gained time and by the end of the first of three laps she had a two-minute lead.
This advantage continued to grow, up to four minutes by the halfway point of the 32 mile race and over five minutes clear by the finish. Manning jumped clear on the final lap to move into the silver medal position and Moriarty slipped clear of Swift to make certain of the bronze.
'It is great to get a fourth win', said a clearly delighted Gill afterwards. 'Everything went to plan, I wanted to get clear early on and make a real race of it, as there was little point in me staying in the group and being marked. Going into the race I saw Lorraine (Manning) as the one to watch as she has done a lot of good races this year. She had a couple of goes in the first mile or two but I was able to get up to her ok, and then I jumped on the hill and got a bit of a gap. She got back up to me but then I kicked again, and that was enough to get me clear.'
Racing in France for the past 6 years, Gill plans to remain there but hopes to move up to a professional team next year. 'I want to stay in France as there are lots of women's race there, but the plan is to get a few world ranking points and try to get a contract. I am doing a big international race there at the end of July, the Trophee D'Or, and then will do some more in September. Hopefully I can get to the world championships and then next year get a contract and do some big races. The overall plan is to aim for the Olympics in 2004, that is the big target for me.'
Images courtesy Gerry McManus
Men - 155 km 1 Mark Scanlon (VC la Pomme) 3.49.01 2 Ciaran Power (Navigators) 1.17 3 Tommy Evans (VC la Pomme) 4 David McCann (Volkswagen) 3.07 5 A. Donnellan (Dublin Wheelers) 4.06 6 D. Lynch (VC la Pommpe) 7 R. Cahill (Banteer) 5.57 8 M. O'Loughlin (Carrick Cidona) 6.55 9 P. Finnegan (Cycleways Lee Strand) 10 D. Gardiner (Apollo CC) 11 P. Cassidy (Cycleways Lee Strand) 12 R. Wiley (www.sdeals.com) 13 B. Doherty (Totalcycling.com) 14 M. O'Donnell (VC Quimperois) 7.36 15 P. Griffin (Earl of Desmond) 10.53 Women 1 Geraldine Gill (VC Quintin) 1.38.23 2 L. Manning (Usher IRC) 5.28 3 L. Moriarty (Dublin Skip) 6.07 4 C. Swift (Surrey League) 7.14 5 K. Rudd (North Tipperary CC) 14.24 6 G. McDarby (IMBRC) Team 1 Cycleways-Lee Strand (P. Cassidy, T. Cassidy, P. Finnegan)