Mangan Claims Special Win In Elite Women Road National Championship

Following the excitement of the Time Trial National Championships on Thursday evening, all eyes turned to the first of the Road Race National Championships taking place in Athea, Co. Limerick today. 

First off and tackling a 108km track was the Junior Men Road Race, this was followed by the Elite Women Road Race (including Under 23), who faced 118km. 

Elite Women

UAE ADQ rider Lara Gillespie has made headlines all year both on the road and track. Today she was back to defend her national title, but she faced some tough competition. 

Following her victory in the Time Trial National Championships on Thursday, Limerick native Fiona Mangan made it two from two this afternoon.  

The Cynisca Cycling rider made a well-timed attack to clench the win ahead of Grace Reynolds, for Brother UK – On Form, who had maintained the lead for the majority of the race. Gillespie had to settle for third. 

Reynolds’ lead first came under pressure when Megan Armitage led an attack with 37km to go which closed the gap. Reynolds kept up the pace and looked set to secure victory with 5km to. 

Mangan went alone and slowly bridged the gap to Reynolds. A sprint after the final bend saw Mangan edge ahead of Reynolds claim the National Champions title. 

Gillespie and Caoimh O’Brien fought it out for third, with the podium finish going to Gillespie. O’Brien won the Under 23 title. 

Mangan credited her extensive preparation for helping her to secure her second national title this week, having won the Elite Women Time Trial on Thursday. She said:

“To be honest I’m still a bit overwhelmed I knew I had the legs going into it and I really did study the course. Like I was saying at the Time Trial, I came out here last week and did a good few runs of it. It just gives you that confidence then during the race. 

“I’ve actually raced with some of the girls in Europe as well over the year, so you know their strengths, but with Nationals you never know what’s going to happen. I just tried to a attack a good bit at the start. Megan and Lara were also trying to attack, I thought we’d get away and then were brought back. It’s a case of trying to mind your energy but also still keep it hard and aggressive. 

“Grace got away and in fairness she put in some ride. We got into a group and I was trying to roar at everyone to work together to catch her. Then when the gap started closing we started playing cat and mouse again. I just said I’d wait till the hill here because I knew after that you have a descent, so if I go hard as I can on the hill I’d be able to survive for the descent.

“I tried on the first small lap and I couldn’t get away and then on the last one I just went as hard as I could up the hill.” 

As a Limerick native, the win holds an extra special place for Mangan. 

“It’s really special, I think Limerick for me, I always get good luck here. When I won the National Series stage race in Newcastle West a few years ago” she added. 

Claiming the Under 23 National Title, O’Brien was delighted to come home with the jersey but already has her sights set on a podium finish next year. 

“I’m happy to win it but I’m always aiming for higher so I’m kicking myself a little bit that I didn’t react when Fiona went but it’s so hard to know what moves to go with and what moves not to. I’m in my last year Under 23 so it’s really nice to get this jersey.”

Junior Men

The Junior Men Road Race set off at a blistering pace. In the end Patrick Casey, riding for Team GRENKE – Auto Eder, had a solo finish, following a top class attack in the final stages, to claim victory – something that’s been on his radar to do for the last couple years. 

AS Villemur’s Sam Coleman was influential throughout the race and was never far from the front but had to settle for second place. Killian O’Brien, Veleka Team, completed the podium. 

Elated with his win, Patrick Casey said:

"It’s an amazing feeling, I’ve been after it for a few years now. Third try here at the title, a couple of near misses over the years so to finally get it done and especially in that fashion, to win it solo, pushing what I heard was 1.45 was the gap towards the end there. To do it in that fashion is really special. It’s an amazing feeling to tick that box.

“It definitely does hit home, especially when you’re surrounded by such depth of talent here, obviously with Seth, Conor and Sam, and David and Joesph as well. It was a fairly deep field across the board with Killian up there on the podium as well today. 

“It was a real cagey race, with people marking each other. I managed to leverage that to my advantage in how I got away there in the end. Really special day out.”

Coleman kept the pressure on right until the end, giving it all he had. Speaking to Cycling Ireland about the race, he said:

“I made it hard for myself. The first hill I lit it up just to see where everyone was at and just to test myself in anything. Me and three other lads slipped off at the front worked well for a while but the group was working well behind and they brought us back. 

“I just kept trying to go after that, more and more but was brought back every time. Eventually about an hour and 50 minutes into it slipped off the front, me and two other guys. The four chasers caught then, we worked pretty well until just after the bell. Then an attack went, I was pretty gassed at that point. Unfortunately, I couldn’t follow. Maybe on another day I might have but yeah second it was.”

The action continues in Limerick tomorrow with the Junior Women and the Elite Men (including Under 23) Road Races. 

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