Grace Young beats Lara Gillespie for biggest victory in Carlow

Posted on: April 1st, 2019
Grace Young, in red, lunges for the finish line at the end of the Des Hanlon Memorial. She saw off the European junior track champion, Lara Gillespie, for a very impressive win (All photos by Sean Rowe)

At the end of the first round of the National Road Series in Carlow yesterday Grace Young had too much for the opposition to win the Des Hanlon Memorial.

Having switched during winter from the De Ronde van Cork club to the Strata3-VeloRevolution set-up, she has now gotten her tenure with her new team off to a fantastic start.

Young rode very well on the cyclocross scene during the off season, and yesterday she beat Lara Gillespie to win.

The Scott-Orwell teenager is still a junior, but her standing is such already that scalping her in a one-on-one dash to the line is a feather in Young’s cap.

That the honours came down to a sprint from a group after 67km was no reflection on the aggression that had marked the race.

And winner Young said she was delighted to get such a big victory in the bag early in the season.


Emma Walsh has a go off the front of the peloton in the early stages of the race in Co Carlow.
Eventual winner Grace Young on the front of the strong group that pulled clear of the rest of the field on the tough Des Hanlon Classic.

“It was a super-strong field,” said Young. “It was conservative until we got to Castlecomer, where I decided to attack on the climb, which caused a bit of a split.

“One of the girls came with me and we kept it going for a while. But it all came back together into a group of ten.

“The last 20km we were just driving it into the finish line. We knew it was going to be a sprint at that stage.

“There were some really strong riders in that group, and some sprinters in there too. So I just thought I’d see how I felt.

“Coming in, I knew I had good legs. I felt strong all day, and I just went for it,” she added of the sprint.

Young saw off Gillespie, who was 2nd, and last year’s Des Hanlon winner Katharine Smyth of Ballymena Road Club.

While the honours were decided in a sprint, Young had been one of the riders who animated the earlier stages of the race.

She attacked on the climb of Castlecomer and built a sizeable gap, with emerging junior Maeve Gallagher (Castlebar Cycling Club) bridging across to her.

However, they were caught by what remained of the peloton, which numbered no more than 12 riders.

And while Young tried her luck again, she was once again recaptured before it came down to a sprint.

The reigning masters cyclocross champion at present, Young had not ridden a national series event since 2016.

However, she will now go into the next round with the series leader’s jersey on her back and marked closely.


Des Hanlon Classic 2019

  1. Grace Young Strata 3-VeloRevolution
  2. Lara Gillespie Scott-Orwell
  3. Katharine Smyth Ballymena Road Club
  4. Maeve Gallagher Castlebar Cycling Club
  5. Maura Claffey UCD Cycling Club
  6. Mia Griffin TC Racing
  7. Yvonne Doran Scott Orwell
  8. Eileen Burns Ballymena RC
  9. Emma Porter UCD Cycling Club
  10. Hilary Hughes Westport Covey Wheelers
  11. Gabriella Homer Unattached Leinster
  12. Agnieszka Wozniak Strata 4-VeloRevolution
  13. Niamh O’Donovan TC Racing
  14. Sofie Loscher Sundrive Track Team
  15. Orla Walsh UCD Cycling Club
  16. Megan Davenport UCD Cycling Club
  17. Emma Desmond Lucan CRC
  18. Leah Desmond Bandon Cycling Club
  19. Michelle McKinney Galway Bay CC
  20. Nessa Rochford De Ronde Van Cork