Fiona Meade takes podium placing and 6th overall in US crit series

meade at speed

Fiona Meade has been based in the US a month with the Fearless Femme p/b Haute Wheels team, with her focus on the criterium scene.

Her second race in the Fearless Femme colours was the Belmont criterium, a day after her introduction to criterium racing in Charlotte.

“This was a baptism of fire in to how how strong the women are here.”

The circuit was uphill for half the course and technical down hill for the second half, she explains.

“And, I think I lasted five laps with the bunch before I was dropped like a hot cake and pulled from the event 10 minutes later when I was lapped by the front girls.”

For the second day in a row, Meade saw Ras na mBan stage winner Hannah Barnes power to victory.

Next up for Meade was Speedweek, which started with Twilight Criterium in Athens, Georgia.

This very famous (in the US) criterium attracts crowds of 30,000 roadside, while another 16,000 tune in online.

“I was very quickly feeling the Belmont pain again as on the drag of this circuit I yo-yo’d out the back on every lap, but luckily I managed to stick in this time and finished 16th – one place outside the top 15 prizes.Meade talks tactics

“This established my aim for the next day, in Roswell criterium, to finish in the top 15”.

Meade more than delivered and finished 11th, while her team had even more to celebrate when teammate Laurette Hanson crossed the line in second place. However, Lauretta was later awarded first place as the first over the line was deemed to have deviated from her line in the sprint.

The rest day – Monday – saw the team travel to North Charleston, Georgia, for the next race on the calendar, where they had a “superb race”, according to Meade, as Lauretta took the win.

Next up for the team was race four, in Walterboro. While Meade says she didn’t like the circuit – the team raced well – but celebrations were marred by Amy Cutler breaking a clavicle in the process.

The planned rest day the following day saw Meade taking the steering wheel for her first driving episode in the US being in charge of ferrying Cutler and her broken clavicle.

“Whatever about Amy’s broken clavicle, I’m sure her nerves were shot after my driving.”

Three hours and some 300km later (in the car) and the Fearless Femme team were at the last race of Speedweek. The team was lying in first overall in the team category and had Lauretta lying in second overall, with the potential to move into first, if the team played their cards right, there was much to race for.

“As with every race of speed week there are points for every laps, bonus points on certain laps and primes in between so the pace remained fast and furious in Spartanburg.”

According to Meade, the strong Fearless Femme team had Erin Silliman covering a lot of the potential dangerous moves for them and the race came to a head with the fifth bunch sprint of the week. Again, Tina Pics’ strength could not be beaten and once again she took first, from Christy Keely, as Fiona Meade took third and her other teammate Lauretta Hanson taking fourth place.

As a result, Tina held on to first place overall and Lauretta remained in second and the Fearless Femme p/b haute wheels team took the top team prize.

In the overall standings Meade finished sixth in a field of over 60 riders.

Meade has been full-time racing in the US for one month, a feat she says is down to a lot of help from others including the owners of her team (Fearless Femme p/b Haute Wheels) Arounkone Sananikone and Mandy Heintz. 

Back home, she says that Aidan Crowley, of Velo Revolution was the link that put her in touch with Limerick man Adrian Hedderman, who works with United HealthCare. Adrian then, in turn, she said, put her in touch with the Fearless Femme team.

“Without their encouragement and support there’s no way I’d be doing what I’m doing now – racing with the best in the US.”

meade podium
Podium at Spartanburg: 1st Tina Pic; 2nd Christy Keely; 3rd Fiona Meade.
meade team podium
Meade with her Fearless Femmes team taking the top spot!