McIlwaine is National League champ; Oakes wins final round

Posted on: July 18th, 2016

Sinnéad Oakes is enjoying a fine run of form at the moment and after medalling at the national championships in the team classification she took the biggest win of her life yesterday in the Mullingar GP. (Photo courtesy of John Hammer)


By Brian Canty

Sinnéad Oakes took a fine win yesterday in the last of eight rounds of the Joe Daly Cycles-sponsored women’s national league series, easily winning the bunch sprint that decided matters in Multyfarnham.

The De Ronde Van Cork rider won the same race last year but it didn’t carry as much prestige then as it wasn’t a national league race – so little wonder she was so thrilled.

“I love almost any day on the bike but yesterday was such a buzz,” she said after the race.

“The women’s racing this year has been awesome and I’ve loved it all but of course finally getting a win is fantastic,” she added.

All the big guns convened in Westmeath for the event which was promoted by the Lakeside Wheelers, including series leader and outright winner Claire McIlwaine (Phoenix CC), Fiona Guihen (Irish Centre for Cycling), Michelle Geoghegan (Scott Orwell Wheelers) and Orla Montague (Dublin Wheelers).

As it was the final round and five riders in with a chance of winning there was a huge amount at stake.

McIlwaine led Montague by a single point while Aideen Keenan (Scott Orwell Wheelers) was in third place only four points behind McIlwaine.

Fiona Guihen (Irish Centre for Cycling) was fourth some points behind the table topper while Michelle O’Halloran (Lakeside Wheelers) started the day fifth with just a nine-point deficit on McIlwaine.

Oakes had no chance of winning outright – but wanted to end the series on a high.

“We all knew it was going to be a very tactical race with a good number of the girls in contention for the overall league win.

“I suspected there would be quite a bit of attacking with everyone trying their luck at getting away,” she recalled.

And she predicted correctly with the opening lap being fast though nothing getting away.

Roisín Kennedy (Arcane Cycling Team) managed to bridge across and that trio worked well together, pushing their lead out to over two minutes.

The bunch didn’t react and for quite a while it looked like the three leaders might actually contest the race.

But Kate Earlie (St Tiernan’s CC), Oakes and a few others from the host club got down to work and began bringing back the break and the catch was made with seven kilometres to go.

That paved the way for the bunch sprint.

“I was nervous about the last corner and didn’t take it particularly well,” continued Oakes.

“Fiona (Guihen) and two Lakeside Wheelers had a gap in front of me but luckily I just got onto Michelle’s (O’Halloran) wheel in the last 300m.

“And when I saw the 200m to go sign I just gave it everything and thankfully I got there.”

Oakes, a former triathlete who has competed in Ironman competitions is in her second season and will now turn her attention to Rás na mBan.