Four of Ireland’s brightest cycling prospects — and Kalf-supported members of Team VC Ériu — took to the start line of the women’s Irish National Road Race Championships on June 30th. What’s it like to compete for the ultimate prize in your country’s domestic racing calendar? We caught up with the team to find out.
VC Ériu team members Imogen Cotter, Mia Griffin, Orla Walsh, Hilary Hughes were just four of the 45 riders that took part in the elite women’s Irish National Road Race on June 30th. The race itself covered 102 kilometres around the Slieveward Bog, near Sligo on the west coast of Ireland, with the route consisting of a 17km loop through rugged scenery of mountains, pines, and rolling countryside.
Add in the 30-degree heat and fierce competition, and it was a worthy challenge for the young VC Ériu squad, which has been scouted as a talent team. Certainly, they looked the part: for the national champs, squad members had each been issued with a Kalf Flux jersey, Kalf Club bib shorts and Kalf Tall socks.
The VC Ériu team made a fantastic start, leading the first sprint of the race on the second lap. They went on to lead the group up the hill with a gap of 25 seconds but were caught on the third lap. At around the race’s halfway mark, though, Irish women’s national time trial champ, Kelly Murphy piled on the pressure and created the breakaway of five riders who would later battle for the medals.
VC Ériu riders Imogen and Hilary formed part of the chasing group. However, they weren’t able to get back on terms with the leaders, who managed to secure a three-minute gap. Meanwhile, even more unfortunately, Mia and Orla were involved in a crash that saw them abandon the race.
The champion’s jersey was eventually won by Eve McCrystal, with Lydia Gurley second and Alice Sharpe third. Among the VC Ériu girls, Imogen took 10th place with Hilary finishing next in 11th. Despite their accident, both Mia and Orla were fine. Overall, the team was still pretty satisfied with its performance at its first long distance national race and they are looking forward to competing again soon.
The riders speak: Imogen Cotter
“What a day with a great team! I ended up coming 10th and rode in a group with some incredibly strong women. My aim today was to try some new things in terms of road racing — to try and get towards the front of the bunch, and maybe even grab a bottle in the feed zone!
“I have been having nightmares all week of being dropped. I was pretty disappointed after my TT on Thursday and wanted a good race today to give me some confidence. I totally surpassed my expectations for myself and I couldn’t be more proud of the work we put in today. Congrats to the talented women who stood on the podium — awesome riding! And huge thanks to Kalf Apparel for kitting us out today.
“We had a lot to deal with — six laps of a course with a beast of a hill on it, as well as very high temperatures throughout the day. I was more aware of tactics throughout the race, and I was also able to put in an attack at one stage. That’s a win in my eyes!”
The riders speak: Orla Walsh
“We just raced our first National Championship Road Race and it was such a great learning experience. The team executed some great attacks in the first two laps. Kelly Murphy then attacked spectacularly on the climb on the third lap and five riders got away in a break.
“We were all in a chasing group of nine. Unfortunately I crashed on a corner coming into the second last lap and took poor Mia with me. Luckily neither of us are seriously injured — more of a bruised ego for me. I would like to get more road racing experience in, but my focus is more on the track for now.”
We’re super proud to have supported such a talented young team. Watch this space!