Cotter And McDunphy Pick Up Victories In Round Five Of Road National Series
Conn McDunphy and Killian O'Brien sporting the senior men's and junior men's leaders jerseys at the front of the race (Image: Inpho)
Imogen Cotter took an impressive win while Conn McDunphy made it two in a row after an exciting fifth round of the Road National Series on Sunday, June 11th.
The John Drumm Cup, hosted by Currow Cycling Club along the roads of Co. Kerry, saw Cotter improve on her runner-up finishing the previous round to take a brilliant solo win in the women's race while McDunphy's second win in a row extended his gap in the overall rankings.
Riders took on a demanding circuit around Currow, Castleisland and Scartaglin as some decisive climbs ensured exciting races from the outset.
The men's race was five laps of the circuit as well as the start and finish, totalling 130km. The women's race was three laps of the circuit as well as the start and the finish sections, making for an 82km course.
The men's race was all action from the beginning as a group of five riders formed an early breakaway. Aaron Wade, Eoin Kelly, Cillian Murphy, Joel Luke and James Davenport all made the jump to distance themselves from the main bunch.
But that breakaway was never given much time to play with, their gap went as far as 50 seconds with just over two laps to go.
The fireworks all came in those final two laps as Wade and Davenport looked to drop back to the bunch as the breakaway's time looked like it was up.
As the gap got within 30 seconds, the attacks came as some of the big hitters looked to jump across to the remnants of the break. With full gas racing for the final 50km.
UCD Cycling Club were the main aggressors of the day and lead much of the attacks, overall leader Conn McDunphy was also active at the front and did get a gap with one attack before returning to the bunch.
But he'd go again in what proved to be a successful move shortly after, with junior overall leader Killian O'Brien, Joel Luke and sole breakaway survivor Kelly making up a defined group to get a gap on the main bunch.
That group's lead went as high as 40 seconds soon after before McDunphy and O'Brien distanced Kelly and Luke inside the final 10km.
McDunphy would soon get away from O'Brien and go solo to take a brilliant victory, with Kelly catching O'Brien to take second as the junior rider completed the podium.
O'Brien's podium finish ensures he continues to extend his lead at the top of the overall junior men's rankings, picking up 30 points as he continues to consistently perform well amongst the senior riders.
Conn McDunphy said:
"I'm happy with that because I'm just off a pretty heavy training block for the (Road) National Championships, I wasn't sure how I would fare. The course didn't necessarily suit me, it was flat and fast, there were a few kickers that split it up towards the end of the race."
"I was lucky to have Killian (O'Brien) with me in the breakaway - he was doing some savage turns. I'm happy enough with the win, it's nice to get another win on the cards. Every day that you win a bike race is a good day."
In the women's race, the strongest riders broke away in the opening lap to form a fearsome group of five - featuring Cotter, Jemma Speers, Yvonne Doran, Jennifer Neenan and Carthach McCarthy.
The group would work together well, building a gap well over three minutes heading into the final lap before Cotter made her move.
Attacking on a tough drag, Cotter wouldn't be caught as she built up a strong lead over her chasers on the Scartaglin climb before descending down to the finish to take a solo victory.
Finishing inside the top ten, Hannah Hayes became the new leader of the junior women's overall classification - her points earned see her go ahead of the previous leader Shauna Finn, who did not race in this round.
"I hadn't any particular place planned to attack, I just kind of went and I just thought I'd make it hard for everyone and make it a difficult race. I felt the pace was a bit slower at parts so I thought I could maybe inject a bit of pace. On the drags and hills I was trying to put some pace in."
"When I attacked, they didn't go with me, and I had maybe half of the last lap on my own. Once I'm into a rhythm, that's kind of my strong point at the moment. I had a very bad injury last year; the explosive stuff isn't great but long and steady stuff is my forte so that's what I did."
Cycling Ireland will publish full results and rankings after round five in due course.
More information on the 2023 Road National Series can be found here.
Link to Inpho Photography here.
1st - Imogen Cotter (Un-Attached Connacht)
2nd - Jennifer Neenan (Un-Attached Leinster)
3rd - Jemma Speers (North Down CC)
4th - Carthach McCarthy (Blarney Cycling Club)
5th - Yvonne Doran (Orwell Wheelers)
6th - Clodagh Ni Ghallchoir (UCD Cycling Club)
7th - Mia Smith (Brother UK-Orientation Marketing Race Team)
8th - Lisa Stapelbroek (Un-Attached Munster)
9th - Claire O'Sullivan (Greenmount CA)
10th - Hannah Hayes (TC Racing)
1st - Conn McDunphy (Lucan Cycling Road Club)
2nd - Eoin Kelly (UCD Cycling Club)
3rd - Killian O'Brien (Orwell Wheelers)
4th - Liam Crowley (UCD Cycling Club)
5th - Paul Kennedy (Burren Cycling Club)
6th - Jason Kenny (UCD Cycling Club)
7th - Dermot Radford (Black House Racing)
8th - Aaron Wade (Cortizo Aluminium Team)
9th - Cillian Murphy (N/A)
10th - Joel Luke (UCD Cycling Club)