Alice Sharpe is the new elite Irish women’s national road race champion after she won a thrilling race from her IBCT teammate Mia Griffin in Kanturk, Co. Cork this afternoon.
Rounding out the podium and capping a tremendous day for their UCI women’s continental team was Fiona Mangan in third.
They came into the race as hot favourites to deliver the gold medal in the absence of defending champion Imogen Cotter who continues her recovery from injuries sustained in a training accident earlier in the year. And they did not disappoint.
Sharpe, 28, was a deserving winner as she claimed her second elite title having taken her maiden victory back in 2019.
The race took place in tough conditions, with the riders having to complete one lap of a 59-kilometre circuit before moving onto a smaller 15-kilometre loop which they completed three times for a total distance of just over 100 kilometres.
It wasn’t until the closing stages of the contest that the day’s major shake-up took place when a group of 10 broke clear and were never seen again.
In the move were the aforementioned Griffin, Mangan, Sharpe and Megan Armitage (IBCT) as well as Caoimhe O’Brien (Torelli-Assure-Cayman Islands-Scimitar), Becky Woods (All Human-Velo Revolution), Eve McCrystal (Bellurgan Wheelers), Lydia Boylan (Qromia Women’s Cycling Team), Jemma Speers (North Down CC) and Linda Kelly (Spin the Bean Power by Coffee).
Armitage and Griffin turned the screw on the drag up to the finish line which thinned out the group and paved the way for Sharpe to burst through for a brilliant win.
Meanwhile, Oisin Ferrity (Island Wheelers) claimed a marvellous victory in the junior men’s race (119 kilometres), edging the final sprint up to the line against Niall McLoughlin (Westport Covey Wheelers Cycling Club), Patrick O’Loughlin (Panduit Carrick Wheelers), Darragh Doherty (VC Glendale), Finn McHenry (The Cycling Academy) and Ruairi Byrne (Panduit Orwell Wheelers.
“It’s brilliant,” he said after the medal ceremony. “I went out in an early break, the first main group of four, and we jumped across to another couple of riders. Then we had a few riders dropping and jumping across from the groups, but I was out front all day.
“This is something I have worked towards all year so it is great.” The junior women’s race was won by Erin Grace Creighton (McConvey Cycles) from defending champion Aoife O’Brien (Torelli-Assure-Cayman Islands-Scimitar) with Shauna Finn of Newcastle West CC taking bronze.
For Creighton it caps a marvellous few days as she took bronze in Thursday's time-trial, while Finn was victorious that night in the test against the clock.