Lara Gillespie inks first WorldTour contract in major career boost

Enniskerry cyclist signs deal with UAE Team ADQ squad until the end of 2026

Lara Gillespie has moved to a top-level WorldTour contract and will transfer to the UAE Team ADQ squad from its feeder team. Photograph: Ben Brady/Inpho

Ireland’s top female cyclist Lara Gillespie has confirmed a move to a top-level WorldTour contract, with the 23-year-old transferring to the UAE Team ADQ squad from its feeder team.

Gillespie is the under-23 European track champion in the points race and omnium and this year helped secure Olympic qualification for the Irish team pursuit squad.

Despite focusing much of her energy to track competition, she has had a superb road season. She won two stages plus the overall classification in the Giro Mediterraneo Rosa in April and then sprinted to victory in the Antwerp Port Epic Ladies race in May.

“I am excited about this step forward in my career,” she said on Thursday. “I have had an amazing couple of years growing and learning how to race and win as a team with UAE Development Team and I am very grateful for these experiences.

READ MORE

“I have to thank all my team-mates and staff, from whom I learnt a lot. And thanks also to the Irish cycling federation Cycling Ireland] who supported me in balancing a multidisciplinary career. I am really looking forward to continue on this pathway and enjoy the adventures that WorldTour racing will bring me.”

The WorldTour is the top level of the sport and in addition to securing a higher salary, will expose Gillespie to a consistently higher standard of competition and further speed her development.

She said last year that moving up to WorldTour then was a possibility but that she held off in order to have the flexibility needed in her race programme to target Olympic qualification.

“I look forward to integrating more and more and being part of a big project in the coming months and years,” the Irish road race champion said. “First of all, I have to focus on the Olympics with the Irish national track team in August, after which it will be great to finish the 2024 road season with some high-level races and really find my place in the new team.

“Over the next few years I want to learn more about myself and continue to develop, I think this is the perfect place to grow and become a successful and happy rider.”

The Enniskerry cyclist has inked a deal running until the end of 2026. Her first race with the new team will be this Sunday.

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes

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