Melanie Spath just pips Sara Ortiz in the gallop (Photo: J Rafferty)
By Caroline Martinez
Melanie Spath (Cycleways) took the third round of the ‘StickyBottle-Joe Daly’s Women’s National League’ in Emyvale last weekend from former Spanish professional Sara Ortiz in a close gallop that went to a photo finish.
With 68km of tough racing in store over four laps, it was always going to be a tough assignment and was made even harder by the high temperatures that greeted the riders.
Of the many initial attempts to get away on the first lap of four, none stuck. It was going to be a fast race and the bunch was still together at the start of the second lap of the lumpy course.
Orla Hendron (Orwell Wheelers) took matters into her own hands and attacked in the middle of lap two. She took a few chasers with her for the ride though she finally got caught on the uphill.
The group decided to keep the pace high, getting further away from a tired Hendron and the bunch behind them.
In the breakaway were: Anne Dalton (Orwell Wheelers), Sara Ortiz (Black Rose), Roisin Kennedy (ESB), Melanie Spath ( Cycleways), Sinead Rivers (Roe Valley), Patricia Buckley (Orwell Wheelers).
The motoring pace got the better off Rivers, Buckley and Kennedy who all dropped off the breakaway group.
The three remaining breakaway riders, Dalton, Ortiz and Spath continued to gain ground on the rest of the field. The race was in pieces at that stage. The three leaders soon had a gap of over five minutes.
Spath launched out of the breakaway in an attempt to solo to the finish, but Ortiz and Dalton immediately responded as things were starting to get serious.
Ortiz and Spath were watching each other as the cat and mouse started coming into the finish. The three almost came to a standstill twice, but Dalton decided she was going to take her chance. She attacked, giving Spath a lead out a couple hundred metres from the line. Only the photo-finish camera could separate Spath and Ortiz as the two crossed the finish line in Tydavnet.
Dalton was third, with Kennedy and Buckley coming home several minutes later, taking fourth and fifth respectively. It was a battle for the remaining points as the bunch crossed the line a few moments later. Sandra Telford (Orwell wheelers) took the sprint for 5th.
It’s a given these days that any race involving both Ortiz and Spath will lead to a serious head to head. Spath enjoys the rivalry and takes it as an opportunity to learn from Ortiz’s experience, as she explained:
“In the National League race in Bohermeen she outfoxed me in the sprint, so I knew she is a very strong sprinter. So my plan was to try and shake her on the last lap, but she was too strong and every time I looked around after an attack she was back on my wheel. It’s great to have such strong competition in these races, it makes for better racing and I see it as a challenge to try and beat her.”
“We can both work well together to establish the break and to get a good gap, but when the time comes to go for the win we are both fiercely competitive; but we get on really well outside the race, so it’s all good.”
StickyBottle.com / Joe Daly’s Cycles Women’s National League
Round Three, Emyvale :
1. Melanie Spath (Cycleways)
2. Sara Ortiz (Black Rose Racing)
3.Anne Dalton (Orwell wheelers)
4. Roisin Kennedy (ESB)
5. Patricia Buckley (Orwell wheelers)
6. Sandra Telford (Orwell wheelers)
After round three, Sara Ortiz (Black Rose Racing) keeps the leaders jersey, closely followed by Anne Dalton (Orwell Wheelers).
Round four will be held in Navan on June 10th.