Kerry’s Sean Lacey has been crowned Men’s National Road Series champion for the second year in succession.
That’s after finishing third in the Wicklow finale, the Friends First Laragh Classic.
Gas Networks Ireland Nenagh Classic winner Mark Dowling lined up with a ten-point lead over Lacey’s Aqua Blue Sport Academy team mate Mark O’Callaghan, Lacey sitting in fourth and fellow Aqua Blue man Matteo Cigala in third.
The hilly terrain alone – including the infamous Wicklow Gap – made Dowling favourite to land the race and the title, but Aqua Blue played the stronger hand, and it was Lacey who capitalised.
“It was the goal for the team to win the National Road Series,” he said. “What we had to do was play to our number advantage and be aggressive.
We knew we had to ride aggressively because Mark Dowling is in exceptional form at the moment and this is terrain that would suit him.
‘The goal was to make Mark work, and that was out of respect more than anything else. He had to be the one chasing and I was the one who just happened to go at the start and the race developed from there.”
International rider Philip Lavery made his National Road Series debut a winning one, having placed in the Laragh Classic last year, John Beggs Memorial Road Race winner Adam Stenson continuing his fine form to be second, with Lacey in third and the Lucan CRC pairing of Dermot Trulock and Conn McDunphy in fourth and fifth.
Second placing offering 60 points gave Lacey a final tally of 162, Dowling finishing 10th to end on 148 points. With 144 points his team mates Cigala and O’Callaghan will round out the podium when the full awards are dished out at Cycling Ireland’s end of year bash.
“It’s nice to win the road series for a second year in a row,” reflected Lacey. “I’ll take a break now and spend some weekends at home with the family, because I’m very lucky to have a supportive wife and kids that enable me to go off racing at the weekends and training during the week, so it’s quality time with them that I will be focussing on now.”
Stenson’s late-season peaking earned him fifth place overall, with Craig Rea in sixth and Dermot Trulock and Sean Moore tied for 7th.
Victory went to National Road Race Champion Lydian Boylan in the Women’s National Road Series Finale, Alice Sharpe taking second position and last year’s champion Claire McIlwainer third.
That performance moved McIlwaine up on to this year’s final podium, Team Madigan’s Katharine Smyth taking second behind the all-conquering Para-Cycling World and Olympic Champion Eve McCrystal – this year’s Women’s National Road Series Champion.