Team Ireland riders battle hard during Women's Junior and Elite World Championships
Three riders represented Ireland today at the Road World Championships in Flanders, Belgium.
Aoife O’Brien and Erin Grace Creighton flew the flag for Ireland in the Junior Women’s Road Race. The women faced five laps of the punchy Leuven circuit, totalling 75.2 kilometres in total.
Team Ireland battled hard to stick the searing pace with O’Brien managing to hold on until the end where she finished within a group placing 81st at 11:51. Creighton was among the non-finishers.
Zoe Backstedt from Great Britain and USA rider, Kaia Schmid, broke away from the bunch with about 30 kilometres to go and maintained their lead until the finish. Double stage winner at this year’s Rás na mBan and winner of the points classification, Kaia Schmid was pipped at the line by Backstedt in the sprint for the rainbow jersey.
In the chasing group, Linda Riedmann of Germany sprinted home first to claim the bronze medal.
Speaking after the race, Creighton commented on the difficulty of the race:
“Really tough, a lot tougher than I think we expected. The first lap just went off, everyone just went off like a rocket and it was just so tough.”
Both riders are first year juniors and have gained valuable experience competing at a major event one which they thoroughly enjoyed.
“We’re both first year juniors so we still have next year so hopefully we can improve on, learn from this and improve for next year.”
Team Ireland has received incredible support in Belgium for the World Championships.
“There was an Irish person on every corner,” Creighton laughed.
“Yah we always got a cheer,” O’Brien added.
Megan Armitage, the sole Irish rider in the Elite Women’s Road Race put in a superb performance today until a crash knocked her chances of finishing the race. Armitage was aggressive from the start and tried to get into an early breakaway but any early attacks were quickly nullified by the bunch. Armitage was riding extremely well and maintained her position in the bunch but withdrew from the race with 56 kilometres to go after losing too much time when she went down.
The 157.70 kilometre race which started in Antwerp and finished in Leuven was won by Italian rider Elisa Balsamo in a sprint for the line finishing ahead of Marianne Vos of the Netherlands and Katarzyna Niewiadoma of Poland.
The World Championships will draw to a close tomorrow, Sunday 25th with the Elite Men’s Road Race. Eddie Dunbar, Rory Townsend and Ryan Mullen will fly the flag for Ireland in the final day of the Road World Championships. The action gets underway at 9:25am.
Elite Women’s Road Race Results