A report of Josh Murray (CU women’s Team Manager)

On Sunday 12th May Cycling Ulster sent two teams to compete at the Lincoln GP. This is one of the oldest and most prestigious races on the British circuit. The reason it gathers such prestige is due to the climb of Michaelgate. A cobbled climb that averages 11% gradient and tops out at 20%. It goes right through the centre of Lincoln town which lends itself to a good atmosphere with the crowds that show up to watch the race. Although it is a short climb the fact that the women’s race went up to it 8 times and the men’s 13 means the race tends to be a war of attrition.

Eileen Burns who has put Ballymena on the worlds cycling map in the recent few years.

In the women’s race Katharin Smyth, Eileen Burns and Laura Campbell all from Ballymena CC took to the start line. Kitted out in the new Cycling Ulster gear. They were supported on the day by Josh Murray (Team Manager) and Jason Burns (Mechanic). After a ferocious start to the race, the girls dug deep. With many top riders finding the pace too hot in the early stages, the CU girls managed to maintain their place in the peloton. There were plenty of attacks, especially on the ascents of Michaelgate. It was not until the 5th lap however that a sizeable break of 8 riders got away.

Bad luck for Laura Campbell but she told us she is hungry for more

It was also on this lap that Laura Campbell got caught up in a crash and whilst she was able to get back on the bike she had lost too much time and it was virtually impossible to get back to the peloton. Katharine and Eileen rode strong throughout the whole race and were part of the bunch that pulled back a gap of over a minute in the closing 5km. Both girls finished at the same time as the winner. Placing 42nd and 46th respectively. This was a massive boost for the girls in one of the biggest one-day races they have taken part into date. An indicator that our home riders are able to match the efforts of those across the water. To put the racing in Britain into perspective. There were 111 girls who took to the start line in a race that was no shorter than 64 mile.

The Ballymena Mum, wife and top athlete…Katharine Smyth
As so many women’s cyclists multi-tasking to “live the dream”
Ards CC sponsor of this report
Ards CC will hold their annual Town Center Races on Wednesday 19th June (7 pm) A women’s race only will be introduced to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Co-Down club. There will be a cup for the winner and cash prizes. More info soon, tell your friends!