Smyth and Burns combine for Red Hand win as huge gap opens

Posted on: September 15th, 2018

Katharine Smyth Red Hand Trophy

The breakaway that opened a huge gap to fill the podium. Eventual winner Katharine Smyth leads Aine Donegan and Eileen Burns (Photo with thanks to Louise Fullerton-Ballymena Road Club)


Katharine Smyth wins Red Hand Trophy from escape


Katharine Smyth has taken victory in the Red Hand Trophy with her Ballymena Road Club team mate Eileen Burns in 3rd; a great result for the promoting club.

In between them was one of the women of the season; Aine Donegan of Scott Orwell.

Donegan has been the breakthrough elite rider of the year. But she was up against seasoned campaigners at the pointy end of the contest today.

And it was the big engines, experience and local knowledge of Smyth and Burns that ensured their club won the day.

In the end a three-rider breakaway split a little and it was a one-on-one battle to the line between Smyth and Donegan.

They are both international riders and there wasn’t much to separate them on the line. But there can only be one winner and today it was Smyth.

She saw off Donegan in the final surge to the line, just getting the upper hand to take the victory.

And after they had sprinted in side by side, Burns took 3rd place on her own a little further back.

The former Irish TT champion, and multiple track champion, is off to the World Road Championships as her next assignment; a mark of the quality in a strong but small field today.

There was aggression from the early stages, with eventual winner Smyth forging clear with Burns and Donegan.

By the 15km marker they had just over a minute on the chase group. And the race looked to be between the three leaders already.

They put their heads down and, in truth, given the firepower in that leading group the six-rider chase group that formed always looked like having a mountain to climb.


Katharine Smyth Red Hand Trophy

Today’s victor Katharine Smyth in the green of Ireland at last week’s Rás na mBan (Photo: Lorraine O’Sullivan)


And at every time check the gap grew, from one minute to two and then 2½ minutes.

In that chasing group was Laura Wiley (Maryland CC) along with Niamh O’Donovan (TC Racing) and Maura Claffey (

Also present was Fiona Guihen (Black Rose Cycling) and Jennifer Bates (Gerard-DHL) along with Isobel Oakes (Smugglers CC) and Laura Campbell (Ballymena RC).

While the chasers put in a good shift, the women out front were not hanging around. And with 50km remaining in the race their gap was up to just over 4½ minutes.


Leading trio splits on climb

That was up to a whopping 7½ some 20km later. Inside the last 20km, the climbs were beginning to tell on Burns.

She lost a little ground to the others up ahead, as the gap back to the chasers was now eight minutes.

Donegan did her best in the final kilometres to get clear of Smyth. But the Ballymena woman was up to the task.

Katharine Smyth closed down her breakaway companion’s attacks and then beat her at the finish.

Having worked hard to ensure the breakaway would stay clear, Burns finished on her own for the final spot on the podium.

More to follow.