British Rider Sprints in to Secure Stage Win and Overall Lead
Nicola Juniper of Great Britain, guesting with Irish squad TC Racing, powered up the finishing climb to take her first stage win in Rás na mBan and, with it, take over the overall lead of the 2018 edition.
Juniper, the 36-year-old former British National Road Series winner, raced for Team GB at the recent European Championships and has carried that strong form into her second appearance in Rás na mBan.
112 riders signed on in Kilkenny ahead of the third and longest stage of Rás na mBan 2018, a 110km haul to the summit top finish on Mount Leinster.
Ahead lay three classified climbs and a final 7.5km uphill including the twin challenges of Corrabut Gap and Nine Stones.
Mountains jersey wearer Juniper led over the first two classified climbs to extend her advantage at the head of the Wicklow 200 Queen of the Hills.
Team Ireland and Team GB set the tempo racing into the final assault on Mount Leinster aand riders were soon in trouble as the gradient gripped.
Overall race leader Iris Sachet found the going tough and Irish national road race champion Eve McCrystal, nursing a broken scaphoid after crashing the day before were among the riders left chasing.
Juniper forced the pace on the climb and only Coralie Demay of Team Breizh could follow. Behind, 2016 Rás na mBan winner Rikke Lønne joined Britain’s Anna Henderson and Megan Barker of Team GB in pursuit of the lead duo.
In the end it came down to a match sprint with Juniper charging home for a first stage win in Rás na mBan ahead of Demay…
32 seconds behind, Lønne secured third ahead of Barker with Lydia Gurley from Athenry (Team Ireland) the first Irish rider home in 12th place.
Juniper now leads overall from Demay with Lønne just over half a minute in arrears.
Juniper also leads the Irish Dairy, The Complete Natural Points Classification and the Wicklow 200 Queen of the Hills.
Megan Barker is Best Young Rider for womenscycling.ie blue jersey while Maeve Gallagher from County Mayo has taken over the lead in the Kilkenny County Council Best Irish Rider category.
The riders face two stages tomorrow. First up is the uphill 6.4km time trial at Tullaroan followed in the evening by the spectacular one-hour city centre circuit race in the heart of Kilkenny City.
Full Results Stage 3
Rás na mBan_3-Mount-Leinster_Results
Nicola Juniper of TC Racing leads todays stage to the summit of Mount Leinster
Pic : Lorraine O’Sullivan
Race Leader Nicola Juniper of TC Racing
Pic : Lorraine O’Sullivan