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National Road Series – Results Round 2: 'Donal Crowley Mem'
By Heather Boyle, CI Communications Officer
16 Apr 2018,

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SEAN LACEY on Sunday heaped praise on Viner-Caremark-Pactimo teammate Keith Fox, after his selfless act led to the defending champion taking a joint lead in the Men’s Cycling Ireland National Road Series.

The Cork-based Tralee man finished third at the Des Hanlon Memorial in Carlow, the National Road Series first round, but back on local roads at the Donal Crowley Memorial Road Race in Blarney, he lined up as a clear favourite.

Four of his teammates got into the winning breakaway with Lacey, a move of 14 riders that went 15km into the rolling 154km test, setting up a gruelling day under rain, and dipping temperatures.

It quickly became clear this group was the selection and that Lacey’s team Viner-Caremark-Pactimo held the aces, with numbers on their side, but with about 65km to race Lacey’s gear cable broke.

“I ended up having to do a change of bike,” Lacey explained. “[Team manager] Morgan Fox had to go back to another teammate, Keith Fox, further back in the race, to ask him to pull in and give me his bike.

“Morgan then came back up to me, I did a change at the side of the road, and then had to chase back on. That was with two laps to go, so the adrenalin was pumping, and at the same time, the attacking started.”

Unshaken, Lacey was among the first to get away, and with 20km to race, he went again, this time for good. Panduit Carrick Wheelers rider Jamie Blanchfield joined him, and teammate Conor Hennebry bridged, but they were no match in the final.

Lacey said: “I felt with Keith being so selfless to give me his bike, there was an onus on me to do something special today and I was adamant that I would take the opportunity.

“I was able to attack with a kilometre to go, and it was great to come home solo on local roads.”

Lacey’s victory puts him in joint lead with Blanchfield, who finished second for the second National Road Series round. Conor Hennebry, the overall winner at International stage race Ras Mumhan over Easter, finished third.

The Women’s National Road Series Race came down to a two-up sprint between Des Hanlon solo winner Katharine Smyth and last year’s overall series winner Eve McCrystal, the latter just prevailing.

The pair had ridden much of the race alone at the front of the race, but feel things could have been different had emerging rider Aine Donegan (Scott-Orwell Wheelers) not missed Smyth’s final attack - which ended her time in their breakaway.

McCrystal said: “It’s brilliant to see another super strong girl coming on to the Irish scene. I think Katharine caught her unawares on that climb. I’ve been riding with her a long time, and half expected it, so I was ready, but Aine wasn’t. I don’t think she’ll ever let that happen again.”

Donegan, who was racing for just the second time, added: “As soon as we turned that left corner and went up the hill I didn’t have it. I’m not as strong a hill climber as them, but I dug in then on my own and I could see them for ages, but I just couldn’t get back on.”

Donegan, fourth in her first race at the Des Hanlon, finished third, moving her up to second position in the 2018 Women’s National Road Series - Smyth now leading by 20 points.


BLARNEY plays host this Sunday to Round 2 of the Cycling Ireland National Road Series with all eyes on local rider Eoin O’Connell in the Men’s Donal Crowley Memorial Road Race.

The 31-year-old Blarney native, who rides this year for host club Blarney CC, finished a respectable 19th on General Classification in Easter’s international stage race, Kerry Group Ras Mumhan, and placed second in the Donal Crowley last season, and in 2014.

He said: “It’s nice to be on the circuit that all of the local riders know so well. We used to do a club league race on that circuit midweek up until last year, so we know every inch of the road – it’s quite challenging.”

Of his Ras Mumhan performance, a prep run for the Blarney CC team being aimed at this year’s Ras Tailteann – Ireland’s only UCI-ranked stage race, O’Connell added: “I was actually a little bit disappointed. In a large bunch it’s hard to always pay attention and though I felt I had the power, I fell asleep a few times.

“The weather did not help. It was definitely tough on the Sunday stage, out around Waterville. To give you an example, I started with gloves on, then it got warm and I took them off, then it started lashing rain and the temperature dived, and I couldn’t get them back on.

“I had to put my hands in my mouth to get the feeling back to change the gears.”

O’Connell got in the winning breakaway at last month’s Cycling Ireland National Road Series Round 1 at the Des Hanlon Memorial Road Race, but was distanced on the last lap. He managed to finish in the top 20 nevertheless and lines up on Sunday on the NRS2018 Men’s leaderboard, which got a boost last weekend as fourth-placed James Davenport (Strata3 VeloRevolution) landed the Cycleways Cup in Navan

O’Connell said: “The Strata3 VeloRevolution guys are very strong right now. Sean Lacey (Team Viner Caremark Pactimo) is always very good on these courses too, and the two guys from Tralee Manor West iBike could go close – Cormac Daley and Cathal Moynihan (2016 winner) – Cormac especially; he’s a young guy really coming up.”

Poignantly, Michael Crowley, nephew of the late Donal Crowley, will also ride. He won the event in 2013, and two stages of the Kanturk 3 Day last year, but has found form slipping in 2018.

He said: “I was at the Des Hanlon, but got caught in the crash after 5km, and I was at Ras Mumhan, but it wasn’t my strongest. I was in college for the last few years, and this year started working full time. I have been trying to get the balance right, but I don’t think I’ve been able to do that and it’s reflected in my form, unfortunately.”

Of his famed uncle, and father Patsy, he added: “Donal and my father cycled for Blarney and they also cycled for Crowley Cycles. They were both involved in the underage in Blarney and between the two of them they produced a lot of champions under age, Junior Tour winners, and riders that went on to represent Ireland.”

Round One Des Hanlon men's race winner Sean McKenna - Photo Sean Rowe

The Donal Crowley Memorial Road Race begins at 12.30pm on Sunday in Blarney Village, the Men’s Cycling Ireland National Road Series field racing out of the town and on to a hilly 27.5km circuit, covering that lap five times, before returning to Blarney to finish their 154km race. Former winners include Eddie Dunbar, the 21-year-old now a professional with Aqua Blue Sport.

Round One Des Hanlon women's race winner Katharine Smyth - Photo Sean Rowe

The Women’s Cycling Ireland National Road Series Race will start shortly after the Men’s and follow the same route, racing the lap section twice for a 72km test. Former winners include 2014 National Champion Fiona Meade.

The National Road Series is a seven race series, with points counting for each race. Double points will be awarded for the last event on the calendar.

Rankings will be updated at this link within a week of each round:

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