Eve McCrystal won her first National Title in the Elite Women’s Road Racing event with the Garda Cycling Club rider’s win at the Cycling Ireland Road National Championships in Sligo on Saturday, beating Lydia Gurley of Aerocoach into second, with Torelli-Brother’s Alice Sharpe winning the bronze medal.
The elite women’s 102km race, which included a significant climb, saw Orla Hendron of Scott Orwell Wheelers set the tone of the day, attacking from the off, but would find her move pulled back later in the day.
On the second lap VC Ériu rider Imogen Cotter attacked before her teammate Hilary Hughes bridged the gap to her. The pair held a 25 seconds lead heading into the climb but were pulled back before the end of the lap.
At the halfway mark, National Champion in the Elite Women’s Time Trial, Kelly Murphy of Chapter 2 upped the pressure at the climb, resulting in a depleted bunch which would ultimately have the medals between them.
This group of riders included eventual gold medal winner McCrystal, Gurley, Sharpe and Ballymena Road Club’s Katherine Smyth. They increased the time gap to over three minutes to the chasing group which included the defending champion, Lydia Boylan.
On the last climb Murphy increased the pace again, leaving Smyth in trouble and soon distanced in the closing kilometre. The select group was now down to four riders, with only three guaranteed a medal. Eve McCrystal came to the front and held off Lydia Gurley at the line in the race for gold.
“I have been waiting for this for so long, and I will wear my jersey with pride,” said and emotional McCrystal after the race. “It’s amazing – it’s a long time coming. I just can’t believe it.”
“It was really hard – the climb, I just had to dig in on the third lap. I had to really hang in and do what I could do. At the end I had to see if I could go over the top with them and play to my strengths and go for the sprint.”
In the Junior Men’s Road Race Adam Ward (Powerhouse Sport) won the title in a two-man sprint for gold, from Ben Healy of Zappi RT, with Aaron Doherty (NRPT) taking the bronze medal.