RESULTS: National Road Series Round 203/04/2017
MEATH man Mark Dowling’s incredible solo victory in Sunday’s Round Two of the Cycling Ireland National Road Series was not enough to knock Cork’s Darragh O’Mahony off top spot.
As Garda CC’s Eve McCrystal confirmed her dominance in the women’s Elite Road Race at the Gas Networks Ireland Visit Nenagh Classic, Dowling stormed to an emphatic win in the 169km men’s edition.
The win built on the Strata 3 Velo Revolution Racing Team rider’s 11th placing at Round One, the Des Hanlon, and impressed all-comers as he blitzed the huge field to win alone after a 20km drive from the bottom of the final 3km climb.
But Des Hanlon winner O’Mahony lurked in the chasing peloton and was strong enough in the final sprint to finish 9th, bagging a crucial 16 points to keep the U23 top of the National Road Series standings, 3pts clear of Dowling.
“I’m delighted to take the win today,” said Dowling. “I’ve been trying to win this race the last four years and I think I made the podium every time.
“It was fast and furious right from the start, and with such small roads and such a big field, I actually spent the first 40km down the back, struggling to move up,” he laughed.
When he did, the fireworks began, his first big move coming 30km from home. A full Aqua Blue Academy team dragged Dowling back, but he quickly refuelled to go again as the road rose for the final climb.
Lucan CC’s Conn McDunphy, buoyed by selection for the Cycling Ireland Ras Mumhan team, tried to go with him, Aqua Blue’s Matteo Cigala also jumping from the bunch, but the winner was gone.
Aqua Blue’s strong work got Cigala up for third, putting him in 4th position on the National Road Series table, his team mate Mark O’Callaghan 2pts above in third.
Dowling’s next big aim is Ras Mumhan, where the renown climber will be joined by team mates James Davenport, Stephen Murphy, and possibly Bryan McCrystal.
McCrystal’s sister Eve was again on top in the women’s 80km event, setting up a breakaway with last year’s National League champion Claire Milwaine, Des Hanlon third Katharine Smyth and Scott-Orwell rising star Orla Walsh.
Riding tempo on the front, the medal-winning Paralympic pilot rode Walsh off her wheel first, then McIlwaine at the next climb, before pushing down just enough power to leave Smith behind on the downhill run to the town centre finish.
Having won the first two races in the Women’s National Road Series, McCrystal leads with 80 points, Smyth and McIlwaine sharing second on 65 points, and Nenagh fifth Walsh sitting back in fourth with 45 points.
Round three for the women is the Deenside Cup in Kilkenny on May 7, the men heading to the 60th Shay Elliott in Wicklow a week later.