The Cycling Ireland Women’s Commission were one of the Sponsors of the Newcastle West Wheelers 4 Day .
We also entered two development teams, with an eye on selection for the upcoming Rás na mBan.
Junior Rider Emma Smith was in the prizes on two of the Stages:
Race report: Emma Smith
The 4 stage Newcastle-west national series began on Friday July 30th , it was my first stage race in two years due to Covid and my first elite woman’s race as a first year junior.
The first race was a prologue on Friday afternoon was 8.6k and consisted of two climbs – one in the first 4K and another at the last stretch to the line it was a tough TT with a massive head wind on the last 4K.
Stage 1 – 75km road race 3 laps of 25k – the race started off fast and together as everyone was waiting for the intermediate sprint at the 10k mark, We then came to the first climb and the group split up, while smaller groups formed as everyone was fighting their way up the climb to see who would get the KOM jersey – the KOM was every lap at the 20km mark. I joined a group of 12 riders, we began to work as a team by working together to chase back on. As we were climbing for the last time that day our group split up and it became a race to the line, the last 5k was a descent so everyone was following lines and getting aero to get down the fastest. It was a very challenging course and I enjoyed the team work that we all applied.
Stage 2 – 104km road race 4 laps of 26km
The race started very fast as some of the senior stronger riders drove it on. We then faced a 3km drag which at the top was the points for the KOM. it was a fast ride as the riders were fighting for the polkadot jersey, it was a tough climb and I found myself out the back as we were reaching the top I thought it was all over for me and that I wouldn’t get back on – then a group of my teammates pasted me and I hopped on – Aga was like the mammy duck and a row of us her baby ducks followed behind and she powered on and drove us all the way back on to the main bunch. I then tucked myself into the leading bunch as we came to the 26k mark. it was a fighting sprint each lap for the green jersey . The final 10k of the race was like a blur it was the toughest 10k ever – there was series of attacks from riders trying to get away and the bunch hunting them down, it then became a massive sprint to the line. I just put a massive effort into sprinting to the line finishing 8th.
Stage 3 (final stage) – 72km 6 laps of 12k a lap. Everyone’s legs were sore and tired today but that didn’t stop us from having a great race, lap 1 & 2 saw the intermediate sprint at the 8k mark and lap 4 & 5 saw the KOM at the 12km mark. The last day was more of a mental struggle than physical as everyone wanted to finish the weekend on a high, as I waited on the start line for the whistle my body was full of nerves but my teammates Grace Smith, Elizabeth Kent and Keela Mc hale gave me encouraging words and assured me everything would be okay. The race started of fast as I settled into the race i couldn’t keep down solid food, my teammate Darcy who has a lot more experience directed me on what to do to avoid under-fuelling . The race pace stayed fast, the group became more cautious as the rain had started and the corner became slippy. As we entered the last corner everyone was waiting for the sprint, I was determined to finish in the highest position I could so I stayed up the front and then launched my sprint taking home 5th place
I would like to thank the women’s commission and my teammates for all the support and advice over the weekend – I appreciate it and it’s a weekend I will never forget and wonderful to get the opportunity to ride as part of the Women’s Cycling Ireland Team.
Grace Smith was a positive influence both on & off the bike:
It was such a hugely rewarding experience for me personally, and one i will never forget.
I felt the whole team was amazing, anything we needed, from food, to supplements, to bike checks, to our kit, we were provided with. I really did feel like we were professional riders for 4 days, that such an insanely amazing experience for any rider to have, I am very grateful for my selection.
I thought the organisation was superb, for instance even down to our breakfasts, each evening we were individually asked what we wanted/needed for breakfast, this was great and meant breakfast wasnt stressful and we had what we needed to fuel our racing. I like Brendan giving us guidance on each stage and asking what our objectives were, and encouraging us to be brave and achieve our goals, but also to be aware of our team mates and help them. Our kits were taken each evening, and washed and dried for dinner, which was a massive time saver!
Colin was always there to offer a positive word, tin of coke, and anything else we needed, he was super organised and so friendly, we always ended up at his car boot chatting over the race after and enjoying a tin of coke…or Keela having her coco pops 🙂
Alison really was the mum of the team, sorting our kits, taking jackets, keys before each race, and making sure we had all we needed, even doing Tesco’s run for us if we needed something. Dave was a brilliant mechanic, and saviour of my quads on the Sundays race, when i cramped, thanks Dave for the push up the hill and quad massage!
I have never enjoyed any cycling event as much as this, and it was down to the organisation and positive environment we were within.
Thank you again for giving me that opportunity, I can’t actually state enough how much it has positively impacted me and given me a whole new lease of confidence in my racing.
Agnieszka Samsel has already represented Women’s Cycling Ireland on the Track in the UK , and only missed out on a Road selection on a technicality . Agnieszka took the opportunity to show us what she could do .
“It has been an amazing experience. Racing was tough, exciting, loads of learning about race tacticts, about yourself and teammates.
My feedback can be only positive – everything was superbly organised, we didn’t have to worry about a thing. Felt like pros for a couple of days when our only job was to get up, ride the bike and recover for next day.
Ride, Eat, Sleep, Repeat mode – that actually happens! Also it was a comfort to know we had the technical support, which we didn’t need much thankfully. I was really impressed with how fast I was offered a wheel change after my little spill.
The support team did an amazing job, but also the riders team was a very good one. Great bunch of women, with similar mind set for racing and a great sense of humor – the team spirit was strong and we all had so much fun (on and off the bike).
That was a very memorable experience and thank you for letting me be part of it. I’m glad I was able to contribute in parts, identify my strengths and weaknesses and to build on it”