Kilkenny native sprints to victory on home roads.
Mia Griffin made it two opening stage wins in two years for Team Ireland in this evening’s opening Stage 1 of Rás na mBan 2023, replicating the feat achieved by international teammate Lara Gillespie last year.
The local rider stormed clear of a hurtling bunch to take a convincing win into Callan, County Kilkenny, holding off Team Noord Holland’s Paulien Koster and DAS-Handsling’s Emma Jeffers, who crossed the line in second and third respectively.
Griffin’s victory secures the overall lead of the race, and the World Tour professional will wear the Rás na mBan Magenta jersey for tomorrow’s Stage 2.
A 98-rider field assembled at The Hoban Hotel in Kilkenny City in glorious sunshine this afternoon ahead of a neutralised roll-out which included a brief pause outside Kilkenny Castle for an official start by Kilkenny County Council Cathaoirleach Michael Doyle.
Once racing got underway, a strong pace at the head of the peloton combined with a cross-headwind deterred any significant attacks, and the bunch remained together until the foot of the day’s only categorised climb.
Once on the Category 3 Curragawn ascent, however, the bunch split into multiple groups, leaving only around 40 riders at the front of the race by the top. Dutch rider Manon de Boer of NWVG-uplus led Hutchinson-Brother UK’s Katherine Sheridan of the United States over the summit, securing the lead of the IVCA Wicklow 200 Queen of the Mountains classification in the process.
A multi-rider pile-up immediately after the summit led to several DNF’s, with a 45 kilometre long chase awaiting those that were able to remount and continue riding.
The remnants of the peloton pushed on towards Callan and the two 13 kilometre long laps of the finishing circuit, with multiple teams putting their riders to work on the front to keep the pace high in aid of their sprinters.
Entering Callan for the final time, it was Team Ireland’s Griffin who rounded the final corner with 200m to go in first place, holding lead position up the long drag to the line to secure a superb victory.
Speaking after the stage, Griffin commented that “Rás na mBan has always been my favourite race, but in my career I haven’t got a stage win here. I was close in 2021, so to get the stage win means a lot, and to do it in Kilkenny makes it even sweeter.”
The result marks a significant moment for Griffin in what has been a challenging year, following a long return from a concussion sustained in Paris-Roubaix in April, whilst riding for trade team Israel-Premier Tech Rolland.
The Team Ireland rider’s stage win also secures the lead of the Cycling Ireland Points Classification, while Marine Lenehan of Team Dan Morrissey Primor by Pissei leads the Kilkenny County Council Best Irish Rider Classification.
Third placed rider on the stage Emma Jeffers of DAS-Handsling tops the standings in the Sport Ireland Best Young Rider Classification going into Stage 2, with Manon de Boer’s maximum points over the top of the Curragawn climb giving her the lead of the IVCA Wicklow 200 Queen of the Mountains classification.
Tomorrow sees riders set off for a challenging 101 kilometre route from Kilkenny City to The Rower, with three categorised climbs along the way.