Nicola Juniper of Great Britain, guesting with Irish squad TC Racing, powered up the finishing climb to take her first stage win in Rás na mBan and, with it, take over the overall lead of the 2018 edition.
Juniper, the 36-year-old former British National Road Series winner, raced for Team GB at the recent European Championships and has carried that strong form into her second appearance in Rás na mBan. Overall race leader Iris Sachet found the going tough and Irish national road race champion Eve McCrystal, nursing a broken scaphoid after crashing the day before were among the riders left chasing. Juniper forced the pace on the climb and only Coralie Demay of Team Breizh could follow. Behind, 2016 Rás na mBan winner Rikke Lønne joined Britain’s Anna Henderson and Megan Barker of Team GB in pursuit of the lead duo.  In the end it came down to a match sprint with Juniper charging home for a first stage win in Rás na mBan ahead of Demay… 32 seconds behind, Lønne secured third ahead of Barker with Lydia Gurley from Athenry (Team Ireland) the first Irish rider home in 12th place.Juniper now leads overall from Demay with Lønne just over half a minute in arrears. Juniper also leads the Irish Dairy, The Complete Natural Points Classification and the Wicklow 200 Queen of the Hills. The riders face two stages tomorrow. First up is the uphill 6.4km time trial at Tullaroan followed in the evening by the spectacular one-hour city centre circuit race in the heart of Kilkenny City. Results  and report courtesy of the Ras na mBan website with thanks. Feature photo and action shots from John Hammer. Podium photo of Maeve Gallagher (Team Verge irl uk) and Irish leading rider jersey holder below courtesy of Lorraine O’Sullivan.