On International Women’s Day, the Ulster women’s cycling fraternity kicked their league season off with an absolute cracker of a race. (report Shaun Mc Bride of the CI Women’s Commission & Photo’s Dany BP Media)

The Arcane girls

Taggart Powers to Opening Day Win

The first race of the season was hosted by Phoenix CC as part of the George Rooney GP suite of Races. From the start, the action was feisty with TC Racing Junior riders Maria Mc Allister and Katie Neill attacking of the front and keeping the group on their toes.

Caroline Wade from Newry was to the fore in covering these attacks and keeping the group together as they approached the end of lap 1. Another Junior Ciara Kelly from the North Pole club in Donegal had other ideas and with the wind on her back launched the first really significant attack of the day, as she crossed the line for the first time the inactivity in the bunch saw her quickly build a lead of over 30 seconds.

Ciara Kelly “up the road”

As Kelly headed back towards the Nutts Corner Roundabout the chasing bunch began to mount a significant chase with Wade and eventual winner, Taggart, assisting TC Junior Neill in closing the gap. Kelly was to be caught just after the roundabout. At this stage, it seemed the race would settle down with the main bunch contesting a sprint.  But on International Women’s Day, these women had other ideas. As they approached the start-finish for the bell new recruit Nicola Carter from Newry was first of the front quickly establishing a ten-second lead.  Young Kelly wasn’t done yet and with Maia Simmons from Bikehouse for company quickly bridged to Carter before riding through, this pair then establishing a small lead at the front. Behind them, Nikki Taggart (Arcane Women’s Club) had recognised the danger of letting the lead pair get too far ahead and had launched off the front of the main group lining this group out. The pressure Taggart exerted was beginning to tell and very quickly the main group fractured. Along the back straight to Loanends into a headwind, Taggart was to bridge across to the leading pair. It would seem that these three would contest the sprint up the final climb. This those was not the case and brave riding from a number of other riders,  Neill and her teammate Grace Smith from TC Racing, Lynn Shiels from Spires and Rosin Mc Givergan from Newry catching the lead three as they turned toward the final climb and the finish. Carter from Newry was also to catch this group which after all the action in the previous 6/7 miles left us eight to contest the finish.

Nikki Carter (above) was to lead onto the climb but it was Taggart a native of Carrickfergus but riding for Dublin based Arcane Women’s team who was to power up the hill for a deserved victory, Simmons hanging on for second with Shiels rounding out the podium.

This weekend is a busty one with the first round of the Irish Women’s Intermediate league hosted by Clonnard CC and then on Sunday the second round of the Ulster League hosted by Newry Wheelers…..WELL DONE LADIES (report Shaun Mc Bride)

Next for the ladies is the Irish Women’s Intermediate league on Sat 14 March (Ras Naomh Finian Race 2020, info on https://www.facebook.com/events/826870404404316) and on the Northside of the border on Sunday is the “John Haldane Memorial” promoted by Newry wheelers. Rider information. Entries still open via the Cycling Ireland website through the portal. https://cyclingirelandlegacy.azolve.com/portal/Login.aspx Due to a risk assessment done on Sunday the race start time will be 1 pm from Kilcoo with sign-on from 11 am at Kilcoo GAC (entry on line deadline Thursday night)