Quadruple champion Siobhan Dervan (Fenixs) had been aiming for her fifth consecutive gold medal but instead it was first-time victor Heather Wilson who triumphed in the Irish women's road race on Saturday. The Marylands Wheelers rider improved on her bronze medal of 2006 and 2008 when she narrowly pipped US-based Irishwoman Olivia Dillon (Touchstone) to win the coveted champion's jersey. Junior rider Mary Costello (unattached) took an impressive third in the 83-kilometre event.
The race was on an easier circuit to last year's course and stayed largely together. Dervan tried to get clear on several occasions, but she was closely marked and had to be content with an eventual sixth place.
Wilson and Dillon were also amongst the aggressors, but said afterwards that the course was too flat to really break things up.
The only break of any duration was a move by Sarah Piner (Lakeside Wheelers) and Heather Boyle (Ravens CRT) on the last of three laps, which earned them a lead of 30 seconds. However they were hauled back before the finish, paving the way for the big bunch gallop and Wilson's narrow triumph.
The Ulster woman was very excited by her unexpected sprint victory. "I am delighted, I can't believe it has happened," she told Cyclingnews. "It was such a frustrating race, trying to get away so many times but nothing was staying clear.
"Heather and Sarah did succeed in getting a gap on the last lap. We had to work to get them back in. The field stayed together after that. I tried to get away on the home straight but that didn't work. So the only way to try to win was to grin and bear it and go for the sprint."
The race went down to a bike throw and losing out - by a very small margin - was US based Irishwoman Olivia Dillon. "My sprint is normally not bad," she said. "I have a longer sprint, though, so that is why I wanted to jump earlier. Myself and Heather were side by side.. and then somebody was starting to go on the right side. We all went then, but normally I like to get the jump ahead. In the end it was a bit of a bike throw, and she got it."
Wilson, Dillon and Dervan are all hoping to be selected for the world championships in September. Last year, Dervan was a solid 24th.
The day also saw the holding of the veterans' contest, and here last year's silver medallist Rory Wyley succeeded his Dan Morrissey Carrick Wheelers teammate Martin O'Loughlin as national champion.
The 41-year-old second year Vet went away in the closing stages with Andre Engemann (St. Tiernan's) and comfortably outsprinted the Dubliner to the line.
"I am delighted," he said after the finish. "I don't get too emotional, generally, but I am really happy with this. You could go through your life without winning a national title, so I'm very satisfied. I've been on winning teams before but to be honest, I don't particularly count them [as national titles]. My best result in the Elite championships was in Waterford a couple of years ago when I was fifth."
Immediately after the finish, it was discovered that he had a thumb tack embedded in his tyre. "I would have been cursing if I had punctured with a few metres to go," he said, thanking his luck.
Third place went to Tom Shanahan (Limerick), who jumped clear on the run in to the finish and hit the line one minute and 13 seconds back. A further 22 seconds later Brendan Whelan (Lucan CRC), Anto Moran (Ravens CRT) and Barry Sutton (Engraveit.ie) headed the bunch gallop to net placings fourth through to sixth.
Wyley, O'Loughlin and Kieran Smith took the team prize for Dan Morrissey Carrick Wheelers.
|1||Heather Wilson (Maryland Wheelers)||2:15:50|
|2||Olivia Dillon (Touchstone)|
|3||Mary Costello (Navan RC)|
|4||Michelle Geoghegan (Orwell Dundrum)|
|5||Orla Hendron (Orwell Dundrum|
|6||Siobhan Dervan (Fenixs)|
|1||Mary Costello (unattached)|
|2||Heather Byrne (Navan|
|3||Rachel Withers (Fintona)|
|1||Rory Wyley (Dan Morrissey Carrick Wheelers)||2:24:52|
|2||Andre Engemann (St. Tiernans)||0:00:02|
|3||Tom Shanahan (Limerick)||0:01:13|
|4||Brendan Whelan (Lucan CRC)||0:01:35|
|5||Anto Moran (Ravens CRT)|
|6||Barry Sutton (Engraveit.ie)|
|7||Mark Greer (Maryland Wheelers)|
|8||Paul Dolan (Usher IRC)|
|9||Eddie Lynch (Orwell Wheelers Dundrum|
|10||Simon Curry (Banbridge CC)|
|1||Dan Morrissey Carrick Wheelers (Rory Wyley, Martin O’Loughlin and Kieran Smith)|