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National Road Series R6: Austrian Gruber-Stadler and Lucan's Trulock win Laragh Classic

National Road Series R6: Austrian Gruber-Stadler and Lucan's Trulock win Laragh Classic

AUSTRIAN rider Hannah Gruber-Stadler won Saturday’s Women’s Cycling Ireland National Road Series Round 6, as the 18-year-old prepared for a crack at Ireland’s top international stage race for Women: Ras na mBan.

Riding for her home team ARBO Rapso Knittelfeld, Gruber-Stadler was among an elite 22-strong field for the Friends First Laragh Classic in County Wicklow, and made the first selection up the Wicklow Gap on the race’s first ascent of the climb.

She was joined by six other riders, National Road Series leaders, Aine Donegan (Scott-Orwell), Eve McCrystal (Garda CC) and Katharine Smyth (Ballymena RC), Round 5 winner Lauren Creamer (Brotherton Cycles), Irish International Imogen Cotter, and Smugglers Cycling Club rider Isobel Oakes.

After the first summit, the seven rode together on the lowlands, then declared race-on once again as the rode went up at Hollywood, on the way to the second, longer ascent up the Wicklow Gap. Gruber-Stadler attacked inside the final 5km to win alone.

She said: “The race was really great, I really enjoyed riding up the Wicklow Gap. That was an amazing, amazing climb. The first attack didn’t really stick, so on the last 5km I attacked again, and this one took me to the finish. I will come back to the Laragh Classic for sure.”

Gruber-Stadler will ride for British team Torelli-Brother-Assure at Ras na mBan, which begins on Wednesday in Kilkenny. The race also features an Irish National Team, set to be led by McCrystal, Donegan also pencilled into the startlist.

Donegan sprinted with Cotter for second position in the Laragh Classic, but the tired riders came together on the hill, Donegan crashing out. Cotter stayed upright to ride on for second, Creamer taking third, Smyth fourth and McCrystal fifth, with Donegan remounting to claim sixth. That move earned her 19 National Road Series points, and keeps the Dublin rider on top of the table, Smyth and McCrystal rounding out the podium.

In the Men’s National Road Series Round 6, Dermot Trulock (Lucan Road Cycling Club) lifted St. Tiernan’s Cycling Club’s Laragh Classic Cobble, recording a second win in as many rounds, after last month landing the John Beggs Memorial Road Race.

He said: “It was hard, my legs were killing me all day on those dead roads. I was happy it was a hilltop finish though - this is my kind of race. Myself and Darnell Moore went on the bottom of the last climb up to the Wicklow Gap, and we caught Ben Walsh and Conor McCann, I stopped behind them, then attacked late and won.”

Such was the test of the 87km route that after 20km, nearly half the field had been dropped. By the time the bunch crested the Wicklow Gap for the first time, there was a split in the bunch, the likes of Des Hanlon winner Sean McKenna and National Road Series second Jamie Blanchfield caught behind.

Series leader Conor Hennebry was in the front group though, with former Laragh Classic winner Mark Dowling for company amongst a 15-strong group. They could not hold off the bigger chasing bunch though, and were caught before the end of the descent.

Attacks began in earnest on the main road to Blessington, the first substantial break of the day created as Ben Walsh, Angus Fyffe, Andy Maguire, and Conor McCann went away, NRPT’s Liam Curley setting off in pursuit through Hollywood.

It was every man for himself up the Wicklow Gap, and 20-year-old Trulock prevailed, Conor McCann (Inspired Cycling) taking second, Ben Walsh (Vitus Pro Cycling) finishing third. National Road Series leader Conor Hennebry took 5th position to extend his lead over Jamie Blanchfield, with only one race remaining.

The final round of the 2018 Cycling ireland National Road Series takes place on Saturday, September 15 at the Blair International Red Hand Trophy in Ballymena, County Antrim, promoted by Ballymena Road Club. Double points will be available to the top 20 finishers in the Men’s and Women’s National Road Series Races.

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