Imogen Cotter in Dreamland after landing Women’s Road Race Title

Darren Rafferty wins Junior Men’s title with dominant ride

Imogen Cotter took an emotional victory at the Senior Women’s Road Race National Championships in Wicklow this afternoon. The Belgium based Keukens Redant Cycling Team rider outsprinted Megan Armitage (Team Rupelcleaning – Champion Lubricants) and Linda Kelly (Barrow Wheelers) at the end of 93-kilometers of racing.

“It feels like a dream, it really feels like a dream.” she said at the finish.

“I’ve said that about a million times since I have crossed the line, but I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it. I’m just so happy, I really wanted this so badly.”

“I had a bad year with racing and it’s only the last six weeks or eight weeks that it’s picked up for me and I was, I was just coming into this just focused, so focused on it. I just wanted it so badly.”

The initial stages of the Women’s Road Race were a cagey affair as the bunch conserved energy for the more mountainous second half to come. Once onto final two hilly laps the racing really kicked off with Maeve Gallaher pushing hard on the first meaningful drag of the day. The effort saw the bunch almost halve as riders couldn’t live with the pace.

After 60-kilometers of racing a select group of five riders led comprising of Maeve Gallagher, Linda Kelly, Imogen Cotter, Megan Armitage and Lydia Boylan. This whittled down further until just three riders remained – Cotter, Armitage and Kelly.

Cotter was expecting fireworks on the hills;

“I knew it would, the first four laps, the small laps I was thinking oh god I like hard racing, so I was thinking I wanted to go and then the first time it when up the climb, the longer climb I was feeling kind of bad.”

“I had that really long ride I did in Girona last week, like a 350-kilometer race last Saturday and I was thinking oh my god, maybe I’m not recovered, maybe I shouldn’t have raced.”

But Cotter had the legs to survive to the end and used positive self-talk to help her to victory.

“I just went for it, and I was thinking, in that moment where I was sprinting, I was just telling myself how much I wanted it, and I got it.”

Earlier in the junior men’s road race Darren Rafferty of Villeneuve Cycliste put on a dominant display adding to the Time Trial jersey he won on Thursday. Rafferty was among a small group to bridged up to the early leader Somhairle Owens Fisher at the 40-kilometer mark forming a breakaway of six riders which included Dean Harvey, Ruairi Byrne, Jamie Meehan and Samuel Moloney.

As the race wore on and the 1,369 meters of elevation gain took its toll Rafferty and Dean pulled clear. With 30 of the 96-kilometers remaining, Rafferty made the decisive move on one of the many climbs and rode solo for victory.

“The first 20k or so in the group was fairly easy on the short course and then as soon as I hit the first climb, I just tried to make it as hard as possible, and then from there on the last 75k were pretty much full gas.” Rafferty said at the finish line.

VC Glendale’s Dean Harvey claimed sliver 1’53” behind with another VC Glendale rider Jamie Meehan claiming the bronze medal at 2’05”.

Cycling Ireland Road National Championships, Co Wicklow

Senior Women

1. Imogen Cotter (Keukens Redant Cycling Team) 2:36:07

2. Megan Armitage (Team Rupelcleaning – Champion Lubricants) 2:36:07

3. Linda Kelly (Barrow Wheelers) 2:36:07

4. Sharon Bird (Ballymena Road Club) 3:37:19

5. Lydia Boylan (Independiente) 3:37:19


Masters Women

1. Katharine Smyth (Ballymena Road Club) 2:44:08

2. Yvonne Doran (Orwell Wheelers CC) 2:46:13

3. Kate Earlie (St Tiernans CC) 2:54:21


Junior Men

1. Darren Rafferty (Villeneuve Cycliste) 2:29:12

2. Dean Harvey (VC Glendale ) 2:31:05

3. Jamie Meehan (VC Glendale) 2:31:17

Images by Bryan Keane/Inpho Here

Senior & Masters Women Results

Junior Men Results