Video: Teenager Gillespie is queen again at National Champs

Posted on: January 13th, 2019

Lara Gillespie has retained her elite Irish cyclocross title in a tight finish at Fota Island, Co Cork (Photo: Sean Rowe)


Having claimed the Irish elite cyclocross title 12 months ago when she was just weeks out of the U16 ranks, Lara Gillespie has done it again.

Now going into her second year as a junior, she beat US-based elite rider Maria Larkin for gold today in Co Cork.

It came down to a sprint after a great battle between the two strongest women in the race.

But Gillespie (Orwell Wheelers) was the last rider in the field any of the others would want to sprint against.

And with the gold medal on the line she powered up the finishing straight to win in the De Ronde Van Cork promotion.

Since claiming victory in this event last year, Lara Gillespie has become the national junior road race champion and European champion on the track.

And she called on her track smarts and speed in the final kick for the line to beat Larkin (The Call Up p/b Bike Law) today.

Young Lucy O’Donnell, who like Gillespie is a junior rider, came through to take the bronze medal for O’Leary Stone Kanturk.

Indeed, O’Donnell not only stayed with the fancied Gillespie and Larkin; she attacked them late in the race in a bid to shake them off and win the title.

More to come.


Gillespie from Larkin and O’Donnell. Grace Young of the promoting club won the unplaced Masters prize and Darcy Harkness of Clann Eireann was the unplaced junior prize winner.


At the gun it was Larkin who got the best start but there was only six seconds covering the top four after the opening lap of five.

The medal winners were there; with last year’s Masters champion Grace Young of promoting club De Ronde Van Cork matching them.

On the next lap it was young O’Donnell who was fastest, but only by a couple of seconds as the leading four remained tightly packed at the head of affairs.

And on lap three it was Larkin who pushed on, just about eking out a small advantage over the others as now Young was distanced a little.

There remained very little between the top three on the penultimate lap, though Larkin and O’Donnell rounded it a little quicker than Gillespie.

Indeed the eventual winner was forced to ride the final lap four seconds faster than O’Donnell and Larkin to be sure she was with them for the finish.

But before they got to the chequered flag, O’Donnell showed her class and lack of fear by doing her best to get away from her more experienced rivals.

At wasn’t to be for her, not today; Gillespie proving far too strong in the sprint to beat Larkin.

She took the tile for the second time by two seconds, with O’Donnell another four seconds back to take bronze,

Young, who rode a very strong race, was 4th some 32 seconds off the bronze medal winner.


National Cyclocross Championships 2019

Fota Island, Co Cork

Promoted by De Ronde Van Cork

Sun, Jan 13: Women’s Race

  1. GILLESPIE, Lara Scott Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club 44:52 (J)
  2. LARKIN, Maria The Call Up p/b Bike Law 44:54
  3. O’DONNELL, Lucy O’Leary Stone Kanturk 44:58 (J)
  4. YOUNG, Grace De Ronde Van Cork CC 45:30 (M)
  5. GEOGHEGAN, Michelle ILLI-Bikes Cycling Team 46:35
  6. STAPELBROEK, Lisa Kenmare Cycling Club 46:35
  7. ROCHFORD, Nessa De Ronde Van Cork CC 47:54 (M)
  8. HARKNESS, Darcey Carn Wheelers 48:09 (J)
  9. STEPHENS, Niamh TC Racing 48:16
  10. ROCHE, Stephanie Scott Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club 50:17 (J)
  11. CODD, Zoe Un-Attached Leinster 51:06 (M)
  12. O’CONNOR, Aishling Scott Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club 51:26
  13. FOX, Arron Scott Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club 51:44
  14. HAWKINS, Martina Dromara Cycling Club 51:46 (M)
  15. WHITE, Helen Stamullen RC 51:56 (M)