Caoimhe O'Brien wins round two of the Road National Series (Photo credit: Inpho Photography/Bryan Keane)

Round one winners Daire Feeley and Aoife O’Brien retained their leadership of the Road National Series on Sunday, with both riders finishing promisingly in the men’s and women’s Des Hanlon Memorial races in Carlow.

The men’s event saw a strong field take in 140 kilometres of a very tough circuit and face 1,700 metres of climbing. Feeley was clear going over the top of the last climb with Conn McDunphy (Lucan CRC) and Dean Harvey (Unattached Leinster), but they were caught with about five kilometres remaining by Matthew Devins (Dan Morrissey – Primor by Pissei) and Lindsay Watson (Powerhouse Sport).

Devins (Dan Morrissey – Primor by Pissei) finished well ahead of Watson (Powerhouse Sport), Feeley (All human/VeloRevolution) and McDunphy (Lucan CRC) in the sprint, with Harvey racing in several seconds later.

Matthew Devins wins round two of the Road National Series (Photo credit: Inpho Photography/Bryan Keane)

The women’s event was a tighter battle, with over a dozen riders sprinting it out to the line despite a tough 100 kilometres and 1,100 metres of climbing. Caoimhe O’Brien (unattached Leinster) was quickest, beating her sister Aoife (Spellman-Dublin Port), Ella Doherty (UCD Cycling Club), Catherine Sands (Newry Wheelers), Erin Creighton (McConvey Cycles) and several others.

“This is actually my third time winning the race in a row,” Caoimhe O’Brien said. “So I kind of knew the finish fairly well. But you never know when you're coming into it [how it will go], but I knew I could trust my sprint. So yeah, it was it was good. And my sister was second, so that is really, really good for her.”

O’Brien was referring to the overall leadership of the series, which Aoife O’Brien bolsters with her runner-up slot on Sunday.

Devins had a tougher time of it in the men’s race, admitting that he felt very rough early on. The event saw numerous attacks, with an early move by Andy Maguire (Team Stafford Bonded) and Jason Kenny (UCD CC) being joined by Mark Dowling (All human/VeloRevolution RT), Aaron Wade (Cortizo Aluminium Team), Gareth O’Neill (Team PB Performance) and junior rider Curtis Neill (Team Caldwell Cycles).

Kenny and Wade pushed on and were chased by various others, with this pace causing the peloton to split under the pressure of the chase.

They were reabsorbed and other groups then went clear, with Wade, Ronan Killeen (Lucan CRC) and Tim Walton (All human/VeloRevolution RT) holding a lead heading into the final 20 kilometres. However there was a major reshuffling after that, with McDunphy attacking hard on the final climb with Harvey and being joined by Feeley.

They were well clear over the top but Devins and Watson were able to rejoin them before the finish, and take first and second in the sprint.

“I was struggling big time [early on],” Devins said. “I know when people see that I won the race, they will think I must only be saying that, but I was genuinely really feeling it. So I kind of just have to gamble and hope that things weren't too scattered all over the road by the climb, and then I kind of just rode a really hard tempo on the climb.

“Then Conn McDunphy and Dean Harvey attacked and Feeley went with it too, and I could not respond to it at all. I just said I’d keep my head down and just give it everything I had. So then me and Lindsey were chasing over the top. I think we only caught them with about five K to go. I kind of had to keep believing that I could win it, even though it was like unbelievably hard.

“It was just a lot of cat and mouse coming into the line. Everyone was attacking. None of us had a leg left, it was just so hard. But then I saw Feeley was on the hoods coming into the line with 300 metres to go. I knew he was the biggest threat. I know Feeley doesn't sprint on the hoods, so I just knew that he probably didn't have it. So I gave it everything in the sprint and am over the moon to win it.”

In the women’s race Caoimhe O’Brien launched several big attacks to try to get clear but was unable to do so. Aine Doherty (VC Glendale) was also amongst the aggressors. The group stayed largely together despite the tough course, something which reflects a rising standard in women’s racing.

“I wanted to break it down a little bit more,” O’Brien said of her surges. “I put in a good few attacks and I think one of them kind of stuck for a bit, but then people caught me and it came back down together.
“As we were coming down onto the road coming into the finish it was kind of a big group together. I tried another attack just to try see if I could break it up a little bit and get away but no, it stuck together. So then I was like, ‘okay, it's gonna be a sprint finish now.’ So I was really happy to get the win.”

Doherty was best of the junior women, beating Zoe Lindsay (TC Racing) and Hannah Hayes (TC Racing). Hayes retains the leadership of the junior series.

Quillan Donnelly (Usher Irish Road Club), Cal Tutty (Dungarvan Cycling Club) and Killian O’Brien (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) were best of the junior men. O’Brien is the new leader of the junior men’s series after round one winner Liam O’Brien was a non-starter.

Round three of the Cycling Ireland Road National Series will take place on Sunday April 23rd in Cong in Mayo with the hosting of the Brian O’Loughlin Memorial by Cunga CC.

Images are available here. 

Road National Series round two, Carlow:

Women’s race (100 kilometres):

1, Caoimhe O’Brien (unattached Leinster)

2, Aoife O’Brien (Spellman-Dublin Port)

3, Ella Doherty (UCD Cycling Club)

4, Catherine Sands (Newry Wheelers)

5, Erin Creighton (McConvey Cycles)

6, Mary Corless (Challenge Cycling Club)

7, Darcey Harkness (VC Glendale)

8, Orla Walsh (UCD)

9, Jemma Speers (North Down CC)

10, Jennifer Neenan (Longcourt Hotel – NCW Wheelers)

Men’s race (140 kilometres):

1, Matthew Devins (Dan Morrissey – Primor by Pissei)

2, Lindsay Watson (Powerhouse Sport)

3, Daire Feeley (All Human/VeloRevolution)

4, Conn McDunphy (Lucan CRC)

5, Dean Harvey (Unattached Leinster)

6, Aaron Wade (Cortizo Aluminium Team)

7, Mark McGinley (Four Masters CC)

8, Matteo Cigala (Dan Morrissey – Primor by Pissei)

Junior men:

1, Quillan Donnelly (Usher Irish Road Club)

2, Cal Tutty (Dungarvan Cycling Club)

3, Killian O’Brien (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club)

Junior women:

1, Aine Doherty (VC Glendale)

2, Zoe Lindsay (TC Racing)

3, Hannah Hayes (TC Racing)