Eve McCrystal back on road, thinking big for season ahead
Eve McCrystal (Garda CC) drives the breakaway during the women’s race at the Des Hanlon Classic; the opening round of the national league (Photos by Sean Rowe)
By Brian Canty
Eve McCrystal claimed a brilliant road race victory at the Des Hanlon Memorial in Carlow yesterday, edging a strong Claire McIlwaine (Phoenix CC) at the end of the two-lap, 76-kilometre contest.
The gold and silver medallist from the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio started as the pre-race favourite. But that only made it more difficult for her as her every move was tracked.
That was until the day’s major climb when Emma Walsh lifted the pace and that forced a natural split in the bunch.
“I followed the wheels and there was a natural selection with four of us going away,” said eventual winner Eve McCrystal.
“Katherine Smyth (Madigan CC), Sinnéad Oakes (De Ronde Van Cork), Claire McIlwaine and myself went. But I think Sinnéad clipped Claire’s wheel and crashed so that left three of us.
“We just powered on and worked hard for that lap. And by the end of it we had four minutes on the group behind,” she added.
From there the trio worked well for the remaining 38 kilometres. And in the sprint that decided the podium, McCrystal just about edged McIlwaine with Smyth taking third on the day.
Eve McCrystal gets the verdict on the line, a very successful return to the domestic road racing scene.
“I haven’t really been around the women much the last year because of the paracycling programme so it’s great to back,” she said of her return.
“I have been getting the miles in but yesterday I didn’t have super legs. It was a hard race.
“I like that type of course; there was rain and wind and sun and it was up and down. I enjoyed it but it was tough.
“I didn’t know what to expect but I was glad to win it in the end.”
McCrystal is still very much in the paracycling programme for this year. But she will be more focussed on road goals.
She took 10 days off after the Paralympics last year and was straight back into training mode for 2017.
“My motivation for this year is to try and get the rainbow jersey in the world championships for Katie (George Dunlevy) in South Africa at the end of August.
“That’s a medal and a jersey she hasn’t got. So I’d love to be able to do that with her this year. The nationals and Rás na mBan are also big targets.”