The organisers of the Irish National road race attracted criticism over the weekend when the structure of the day’s racing meant the women’s peloton was forced to pull over for the men’s race.
The Irish National Championships, held in Wexford, were won by defending champion Lydia Boylan (Team WNT) and Ryan Mullen (Cannondale-Drapac) respectively.
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Boylan took the win solo, springing from the group with 5km to go on the final climb of Codd’s Lane and retaining her lead to the finish to take her third National title. In the past two editions, she’s won from a sprint. Mullen also broke clear at 4km on the way to his win.
The overtake took place during the final lap for the women – and the neutralised section ended with 10km to the finish line. Commenting on the organisation, Boylan said: “It was the right call on the day but a scenario that definitely needs to be avoided in future National Championships’.”
Organisers tweeted to explain the situation, after the commissaire made the call, and were greeted with disgruntlement.
Justifying the decision, they quoted the average speeds of both the men and women’s events, saying: “They were given almost a full lap (15km) head start. Average speed of men is 48km/hr. Woman’s 34km/hr.”
The women were given a 15km head start on the men’s race – a full lap being 18.9km long, the idea being that a gap would be maintained until the finish line.
In the Cycling Ireland race report, it was commented: “The Elite Women’s race was first to leave the HQ at 10AM. The race was fought quite conservatively with a good pace set and a few riders getting dropped every lap… The Elite men’s race was aggressively fought with attacks from the start through to the end.”
Every race has its own character and in this case it seems the average speed of the races was miscalculated; with not enough room left for error.
The race in Ireland was directly compared the the British National races, where the women’s event started at 9am, and the men’s race commenced at 1.45pm – when the women had finished their event.
Pulling a slower race over to allow a faster race to overtake is common in amateur racing – but at a National level, many viewers felt it was unacceptable.