Alice Sharpe secures road race crown three years after first title

28-year-old leads home remarkable podium sweep by IBCT team

Three years after winning her first Irish road race championship title, Alice Sharpe repeated the feat with a powerful uphill sprint at the finish of the women’s race in Kanturk on Saturday afternoon. The 28-year-old led home a remarkable podium sweep by the IBCT team, their regular programme of races in Belgium and elsewhere abroad paying off with a dominant display.

Teammates Mia Griffin and Fiona Mangan were second and third while another IBCT rider, Megan Armitage, was one of the strongest in the race but was unable to break the elastic with repeated attacks. She finished a disappointed sixth.

The 104 kilometre event was a race of attrition, with a tough course and difficult weather conditions whittling down the list of contenders to an eventual eight-rider group.

”I’m very excited,” Sharpe said, describing her feelings immediately after donning the distinctive national champion’s jersey. “I’m just happy to get the job done. There were a lot of attacks going in the last few kilometres. That was just the nature of the course, it was flat and kind of fast, so no attacks were staying away. It came down to quite a cagey sprint at the end.

”There was a headwind coming up the finish as well, so I knew I wanted to stay behind a few wheels until I launched my attack. When I went I just went and didn’t look around at anybody else. It is just really nice to be able to take the [champion’s] jersey to Europe and show it off in the pro peloton. It is always amazing to be able to show off the bands and the stripes.”

Earlier in the day Erin-Grace Creighton (McConvey Cycles) won the junior women’s event, beating Aoife O’Brien (Torelli-Assure-Cayman Islands-Scimitar) and Shauna Finn (Newcastle West Cycling Club). Oisin Ferrity (Island Wheelers) triumphed in the junior men’s race ahead of Niall McLaughlin (Westport Covey Wheelers) and Patrick O’Loughlin (Panduit Carrick Wheelers).

The national road championships will conclude on Sunday with the Elite and Under 23 men’s event. WorldTour professional Eddie Dunbar (Ineos Grenadiers) will be trying to triumph on what is effectively home soil in Kanturk, but several other strong riders could also take gold. These include Thursday’s time trial winner Ben Healy (EF Education-EasyPost), the road race winner two years ago.

Cycling Ireland National Road Race Championship

Senior women’s race: 1 Alice Sharpe (IBCT) 104 kilometres in 2 hours 51′56″, 2 M Griffin (IBCT), 3 F Mangan (IBCT), 4 C O’Brien (Torelli-Assure-Cayman Islands-Scimitar), 5 L Kelly (Spin the Bean Power by Coffee) at 3″, 6 M Armitage (IBCT) at 4″, 7 B Woods (All Human/Velo Revolution Racing Team), 8 E McCrystal (Bellurgan Wheelers), 9 L Boylan (Oromia Women’s Cycling Team) at 1′40″, 10 H Magill (Watersley R&D Cycling Team) at 3′33″

Junior men: 1 Oisin Ferrity (Island Wheelers) 119 kilometres in 2 hours 59′20″, 2 N McLaughlin (Westport Covey Wheelers), 3 P O’Loughlin (Panduit Carrick Wheelers), 4 D Doherty (VC Glendale), 5 F McHenry (The Cycling Academy), 6 R Byrne (Pinergy Orwell Wheelers) at 6″, 7 C Neill (Carn Wheelers) at 44″, 8 C Marshall (Pinergy Orwell Wheelers) at 1′23″

Junior women: 1 Erin Grace Creighton (McConvey Cycles) 59 kilometres in 1 hour 47′9″, 2 A O’Brien (Torelli-Assure-Cayman Islands-Scimitar), 3 S Finn (Newcastle West Cycling Club), 4 E Smith (Navan Road Club) at 5′29″, 5 E Murray (TC Racing) at 5′41″, 6 A Mooney (Navan Road Club) at 15′07″

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes is a contributor to The Irish Times writing about cycling