Teenage star Garner edges out Irish champ Boylan at Rás mBan

Posted on: September 9th, 2015

Rising British star Grace Garner just manages to get the better of Irish champion Lydia Boylan (Photo: Lorraine O’Sullivan-INHPO)


By Brian Canty

Grace Garner of Britain’s RST Racing Team has won the opening stage of An Post Rás na mBan this evening, Wednesday.

The talented teenager is the sister of well-known British road pro Lucy Garner.

And the younger sibling served notice of her capabilities with a fine bunch sprint victory to claim the first pink leader’s jersey of the race in Barefield.

Garner edged out reigning Irish national road race champion Lydia Boylan (Team WNT), with the former’s teammate Mel Lowther rounding out the podium for third.

It’s a superb start to the race by young Garner.

As well as taking the race leader’s pink jersey she’s also the leader of the National Dairy Council points classification and the womenscycling.ie young rider’s category.

Today’s opening stage took the riders on a 68km loop in an anti-clockwise direction from Dromoland in Ennis south towards Shannon via Newmarket-on-Fergus, Sixmilebridge, Kilmurry, Tulla, Crusheen and Barefield.

There was only one categorised climb – after 38 kilometres – but it was a nasty five-kilometre drag that whittled down the field considerably.

By then, Kirsten Peetoom of the Dutch WV Breda Manieu.nl team had taken flight up the road by herself for a short-lived spell.

Heléne Gerard of Team Breizh from France was first over that one and only climb at Maghera which meant she holds the IVCA Wicklow 200 jersey as leader of the Queen of the Hills classification.

The climb did significant damage and saw the bunch split in half.

The second group would never regain contact with the main field as those leading raced towards the finish.

A number of riders tried to escape in the latter portion of the race but with the speed so high even those efforts that pulled clear were quickly swept up.

Garner, a member of Great Britain’s Olympic development programme was quickest in the big gallop that decided it.

Boylan would have loved the victory but looked strong coming home 2nd, while Eve McCrystal (Garda CC) was also at the pointy end of things and she took home the green Clare County Council Best Irish rider jersey.

Boylan is racing under a British licence so is ineligible for that classification.

Tomorrow’s stage, titled the ‘Wild Atlantic Way’, takes the riders from the start at Loop Head onto Kilkee, Doonbeg, Quilty, Spanish Point, Lahinch, Doolin, Fanore and onto the finish in Ballyvaughan.

There’s a Queen of the Hill prime after 15 kilometres but it’s less than two kilometres in length so shouldn’t pose too much difficulty for the majority of the peloton.

The same cannot be said for the next climb of the day, however; the cat 1 climb Cliffs of Moher. The climb is four kilometres long and should thin the bunch out significantly.

There’s a category three climb about seven kilometres later but in all likelihood, the damage will have been done by then.

From there, it’s 16 kilometres to the finish and that’s pretty much all downhill.

To make it even more difficult the forecast is for a tail-cross wind for the entire stage so a fast day in the saddle is anticipated.



Stage 1: Dromoland to Barefield, 68k

Stage Podium

  1. Grace Garner (RST Racing Team)
  2. Lydia Boylan (Team WNT)
  3. Mel Lowther (RST Racing Team)
  • An Post Rás na mBan Overall Classification; Grace Garner (RST Racing Team)
  • NDC Points Jersey; Grace Garner (RST Racing Team)
  • IVCA Queen of the Hills; Heléne Gerard (Team Breizh)
  • The Clare County Council Best Irish Rider Jersey; Eve McCrystal (Garda CC)
  • Womenscycling.ie Best Young Rider Jersey; Grace Garner (RST Racing Team)
  • Leinster Stages Jersey; Grace Garner (RST Racing Team)