David Irvine (Caldwell Cycles) and Jennifer George (TC Racing) took overall honours in the Tour of Omagh after three difficult days of racing. Reports and results from the A4 and women’s races can be seen below.
The final day in the SPAR Tour of Omagh proved to be a real cracker in both the A4 and Women’s races. In the A4 race, up to 25 riders were within 30secs of the overall lead so it was all to play for. After the 2nd KOH of the day, the first dangerous attack came from Damian O’Hagan (Clogher Valley Wheelers), who opened up almost 30secs of a gap in a solo effort. However, he suffered for his efforts as the race went deeper into the Sperrins and on the final Cat 1 climb at Gortin, the KOH leader David Irvine (Team Caldwell) stamped his mark on the race and by the top had over 40secs on a chasing group of 10 riders. The yellow jersey at this point had lost almost 2mins.
The chasing group would make the connection to Irvine, and it came to a sprint at the finish with Clogher Valley rider Tomas Knapcock taking the stage win. Irvine though would take the overall win for the event, and he also extended his lead in the KOH competition sponsored by Capital Reinforcing. Barry Rodgers (Harps CC) took the overall Points competition, and Shane Murray (Oldcastle CC) took the Best Young rider competition. Harps CC also took the best overall team competition. Declan McEntee (Emyvale CC)was the Best Unplaced Master.
In the Women’s event, Ellie Mc Ardle (Cycling Ulster), Lyndsay Bryce (Leinster) and Ciara Ni Fhlathartaigh (Orwell) were determined to make it a hard chase for the scratch group and with almost 4 mins of an advantage approaching Drumquin it looked to be playing dividend as the scratch group was being carefully contained by The TC Riders protecting the pink jersey.
This was to change very quickly between Drumquin and Castlederg with Jennifer George in the Pink Jersey launching an attack of the front which was quickly covered by the group but the increase in speed meant the gap to the front group had reduced dramatically and by the time the race reached Castlederg the cars between the group were removed.
The group eventually merged on the descent to Victoria Bridge and from then to the finish we witnessed some super racing, first to go on the attack just after the group merged was Jennifer bates from Cycling Leinster, she was to be caught on the climb out of Victoria Bridge and then her team Maria Claffey (Leinster) was to go off the front open a 15 second lead before being absorbed by the group. As the peloton turned in Newtownstewart to head another Leinster rider Sinead Molloy was to jump of the front of the group. Sinead was to gain a maximum of about 20 Seconds before being caught.
The next break was to be the decisive one as Fiona Guihen from Leinster and the white jersey holder Lara Gillespie were to attack on the final climb into Gortin before the riders reached the Category 1 Climb on Lenamore Road. Gillespie was to forge on quickly distancing herself from Guihen as they approached the climb. By the foot of the climb Gillespie has opened a 30 second lead with only George in the pink Jersey closing the gap with a smaller group further back. The pink and white jerseys crested the climb together and had a lead of over a minute on a group of two Isabel Oakes (Smugglers Cc) and Ellen Barker (IOM) with another group of five, Maria Claffey, Fiona Guihen, and Aisling Flanagan all Leinster with Sofie Loscher (Womens Commission) and Eleanor Davies (IOM) a further 40 seconds back with the rest of the bunch in pieces on the climb.
A furious descent of the glens towards Omagh ensures that the stage win will be fought out between the pink and white jerseys, and with 1 km to go they were still locked together with National Junior Champion taking the sprint to claim her second stage win of the weekend and George with a second place retaining the Pink Jersey.
Yet again the women delivered some top class racing vindicating host club Omagh Wheelers commitment to the Ladies Race.
Thanks to all the volunteers in Omagh Wheelers and local clubs who helped including Strabane-Lifford CC, Lakeland CC, Termon Wheelers, Omagh Motor Club, Omagh Tri club, Clogher Valley Wheelers, and East Tyrone. Thanks to the PSNI and Ambutran for their valuable assistance and co-operation. And thanks to Drumragh Sarsfields GAC.
Pretty in “PINK” for TC Racing
What a weekend for TC Racing and its driving force Tom Clogher, a man and a team who are to the fore in promoting women’s cycling and creating fantastic opportunities for Irish women both at home and abroad.
Today in Omagh the fabulous Jenifer George guesting for TC Racing was on the top step of the podium after three tough days of racing in West Tyrone. Her victory in the Ladies Tour Of Omagh is due reward for Tom and his team given their contribution to women’s racing in Ireland. His team were also to win the team prize ahead of Dublin based powerhouse Orwell Wheelers with the talented Cycling Leinster team in third.
With teams from Isle of Man, Ulster and Women’s Commission also competing the team competition went down to the wire.
In the race for the GC two of the three rider who attacked with George during Friday evening’s opening stage Isobel Oakes (Smugglers CC) and Agnieszka Wozniak (County Cork CC) were to complete the podium with Jane Wilkinson (Cycling Ulster) finishing fourth, these ladies reaping the rewards of their brave ride on Friday evening.
For TC Racing, George who spent the second half of 2017 recovering from a broken leg was also the winner of the points jersey.
In the newly introduced Young Riders Category, National Junior Champion Lara Gillespie was the victor also adding two stages to an impressive debut in the Omagh Stage Race.
A final word must go to host club Omagh Wheelers who strive to make the ladies race better each year. In the 2018 race equal prize money, new categories, and the host club’s willingness to embrace and work with the Women’s commission new grading of riders made for a fantastic weekend of racing. The race provided excellent racing for women right across the spectrum of abilities and sent all riders and teams home happy.