Rafferty Wins 2024 Elite Men Road Race Championships

Posted in: ROAD RACING
By Jennifer Bonham, CI Marketing and Communications Coordinator
Jun 23, 2024 - 8:43:23 PM

Photos: Darren Rafferty winner of the Elite Men (including Under 23) Road Race Photo courtesy - Caroline Kerley
Darren Rafferty wrote his name into the history books winning the Elite Men National Championship

The final day of action for the 2024 Cycling Ireland Road National Championships, hosted by Newcastle West Cycling Club, saw the Junior Women and the Elite Men (including Under 23) take to the Co. Limerick roads in search of the national champions jersey.

Elite Men

Victory in the Elite Men Road Race (including Under 23) went to Darren Rafferty for EF Education. Rafferty’s race was far from ideal, with two bike changes due to mechanical issues, but this didn’t prevent him from coming out on top.

Former Rás Tailteann winner Dillon Corkery finished in second place for ST MICHEL – MAVIC – AUBER93.

Rafferty and Corkery pulled away from the other riders as the began the small five inner laps. The pair worked well together, but with 11km to go, Corkery cramped up and Rafferty rode away. Corkery closed the gap again, but in the end had to settle for second.

Rory Townsend, Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team, claimed third place ahead of Dean Harvey, for Trinity Racing. Harvey did not come home emptyhanded as he picked up the jersey for winning the Under 23 National Road Race Championship.

Completing the Under 23 podium was Patrick O’Loughlin in second and Jamie Meehan in third, riding for Panduit Carrick Wheelers and CC Etupes respectively.

“I think I had my expectations pretty low after Thursday’s kind of disappointing Time Trial. I wanted to redeem myself a bit but didn’t really think that I had the legs or the fitness to get a good result.

“I thought I’d see how it all plays out with all the stronger riders in the field, I thought it was Townsend and Eddie’s to lose, so I kind of leaned on them a bit. And also it was nice racing for the first time again with my brother, it was cool. He got in the first attack with Eddie. I tried to let that group of four get a bit of a gap and try and get them ahead. Then a group of five of us jumped across, then we had a good strong group of nine – that was the break for the day.

“The final climb was a lot harder the sixth, seventh, eight, ninth time, I just dug in and pushed for the line, lucky enough I managed to hold on.”

It certainly was a special day for the Rafferty family, with two brothers in action in the Elite Men and their sister Aliyah finishing as runner-up in the Junior Women category.

“It was so nice to do it here with some many people from Island Wheelers, my home club, and yeah to keep it with EF another year is something really nice for the team and for myself,” Rafferty added.

Under 23 champion in 2022, Harvey was glad to be back in the national champions jersey again.

“It’s nice to have it back after losing it last year. Hopefully I get to wear it in a race this time because last time I won it I didn’t get to wear it.

“I came in more focused on the Elite race than the Under 23 race, it’s always secondary but yeah once I got in that move I saw who was it and knew that was it. It’s nice when you get into that sort of move and then you can relax a bit.

“In the small circuit it was about saving and trying to make a plan for it. It wasn’t perfect in the end but I’m happy with how it went."

2024 Cycling Ireland Senior Men inc. U23 Road Race National Championships

1. Darren RAFFERTY EF Education Easypost 21:44 3:39:36
3. Rory TOWNSEND Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team +1:07
4. Dean HARVEY U23 Trinity Racing
5. Finn CROCKETT Volkerwessels Cycling Team +1:43

Lucy Bénézet Minns winner of the Junior Women Road Race - Photo courtesy - Caroline Kerley
Junior Women

Returning Junior Women National Champion, Lucy Bénézet Minns has shown great form this year, and she added to her tally today, claiming her third national road title in two years.

Last year she claimed both the Junior Women Time Trial and Road National Championship. Today she finished over five minutes ahead of her nearest rival in the Junior Women Road Race.

Riding for Tofauti Everyone Active, Bénézet Minns was in good company on the podium with her teammate Aliyah Rafferty taking second place. Aine Doherty completed the podium for VC Glendale.

“It was a good race, nice course – it was hard but not so difficult that it was going to blow the race apart straight away, it was a nice course."

Riding alongside teammate Rafferty, the Tofauti Everyone Active riders had a clear plan, Bénézet Minns explained:

“We planned that she was going to go first and then I would kind of bridge across. Give her a bit of a gap and then go across, hopefully on my own which didn’t really work because we had Aine with us but it ended up being fine. It was nice to have a teammate in the race, it was good.”

Heading into the senior ranks next year, Bénézet Minns is looking forward to challenging herself with racing over some longer distances, but her immediate focus is on the Ghent International Track Meet in Belgium next week.

2024 Cycling Ireland Junior Women Road Race National Championships

1. Lucy BENEZET MINNS Tofauti Everyone Active Women 1:25:11
2. Aliyah RAFFERTY Tofauti Everyone Active +5:36
3. Aine DOHERTY VC Glendale +6:54
4. Aoife BAKOVIC Watersley Race & Development CT +9:12
5. Kate MURPHY Sliabh Luachra Cycling Club ''

The 2024 Cycling Ireland Road National Championships are hosted by Newcastle West Cycling Club.