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National Road Series Round 6 - Laragh Classic

National Road Series Round 6 - Laragh Classic

WICKLOW GAP is set to be the scene of the penultimate clash on the 2018 Cycling Ireland National Road Series circuit this Saturday, as the leaders tackle the Friends First Laragh Classic.

Uniquely, the Men’s and Women’s National Road Series races will be run over identical courses, covering 87km of some of County Wicklow’s toughest terrain. Hosts St. Tiernan’s Cycling Club have devised a continuous hilly circuit, that will climb the Wicklow Gap twice.

In a grandstand finish, both elite races will also finish on the Wicklow Gap summit, a location visited by the Tour de France in 1998, and by Ireland’s premier stage race, Ras Tailteann last May. They, and the Laragh Classic, are among the rare chances to race up this famous climb.

The standings in the Women’s National Road Series table are topped by Dublin’s Aine Donegan, who has successfully transferred professional triathlon form to road racing this term. The Scott-Orwell Wheelers rider is yet to win a National Road Series race, but has recorded four consecutive podiums to build a lead of 15 points over defending champion Eve McCrystal.

Early leader Katharine Smyth has dropped down to third, but trails McCrystal by just a point and finished fourth in last year’s Laragh Classic to professionals Alice Sharpe and Lydia Boylan, and former National Road Series winner Claire McIlwaine.

At the top of the Men’s National Road Series is Waterford’s Conor Hennebry, winner of the Donamon GP in Round 3. The Viner-Caremark-Pactimo rider suffered a dip in form at the John Beggs Memorial Road Race in Round 5 and could be vulnerable again.

Jamie Blanchfield, a regular training partner of Hennebry, is the main danger to his hopes for National Road Series honours. He sits 22 points off his lead, 40 points available for a win on Saturday, and double points down to 20th position available for the finale at the Red Hand Trophy on Saturday, September 15th.

Team Gerard-DHL could be Saturday’s strongest team, Sean Moore and Cian Sutcliffe creeping up into the top four. They are set to be joined by John Beggs fifth Dillon Corkery, as well as Andy Maguire, Luke Kearney and Jack Caldwell.

The Laragh Classic is based at the Brockagh Centre in Laragh, County Wicklow, with all races beginning from race HQ at 11am, and finishing at the top of the Wicklow Gap. Live updates will be available on Cycling Ireland National Road Series channels. Follow @CINatRoadSeries on Twitter for coverage.

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