GARDA CC’s Eve McCrystal took time out from being Katie-George Dunlevy’s pilot to beat DID Electrical’s Aideen Keenan in a thrilling finish to round two of the Joe Daly Cycles Women’s National League.
Hosted by the Gas Networks Ireland Visit Nenagh Classic, the race attracted more than 40 women, including Onit Cycles from Wales and track star McCrystal, whose main discipline now is piloting for Dunlevy – a partnership which won bronze in the 3km individual pursuit at the Para-Cycling World Championships last month.
McCrystal was active throughout the race, attacking and making the most of two team mates, before getting away on the final climb with 20km to go.
She brought Errigal’s star junior Ciara Doogan [pink jacket, left] and Keenan, successful at the Broadford Two Day last weekend, with her and the trio used their different strengths to go all the way.
Conscious of McCrystal’s superior sprinting ability, Keenan was the first to attack, but the move was not enough and McCrystal got to the final bend first before sprinting down the hill, through the town, and under the gantry.
Talking through the race, McCrystal said: “The first hour was steady enough. I tried to get away a few times, but it wasn’t happening. I was lucky enough that my two team mates worked really hard, giving me the chance to recover.
“I wasn’t aware of that last climb at 6ok, but my positioning was good and thankfully Aideen [Keenan] attacked on it, I held her wheel and we got to the top. Ciara Doogan was with us too, which was great.
“Aideen is super strong and I’ve been in a break with Ciara before. She’s an amazing climber and I wouldn’t me as strong as her, so she took us over the climbs and myself and Aideen worked that bit harder on the flat. It’s good when you work well together like that. ”
She added: “It’s always good to finish [in the town] like that. It just gives you that extra push when you are absolutely dying, the legs are just not working anymore and you get that buzz coming around the bend. It was fantastic to finish on the main street like that.”
The race was her first Womens National League appearance this year and could be her last as she turns her attentions back to her partnership with Dunlevy, who is aiming for the Para-Cycling World Road Championships in Switzerland at the end of July.
The pair will be in action next at the four-day Tandem Tour of Belgium from May 14-17 and McCrystal also has her sights set on the Irish National Championships in June.
Keenan’s second was enough to put her on the top of the table with third-placed Doogan sitting in ninth.
Joe Daly Cycles Women’s National League Standings
1 Aideen Keenan (DID Electrical) 23pts
2 Teresa O’Sullivan (Tralee CC) 19pts
3 Karen Robinson (Garda CC) 15pts
4 Eve McCrystal (Garda CC) 13pts
5 Grace Young (De Ronde Van Cork) 13pts
6 Orla Hendron (Orwell Wheelers) 13pts
7 Fiona Meade (Blarney CC) 13pts
8 Ann Horan (Orwell Wheelers) 12pts
9 Ciara Doogan (Errigal CC) 11pts
10 Sarah Dennedy (Dunboyne CC) 11pts