Eve McCrystal has been one of the biggest success stories in Irish Para Sport through her world champion tandem partnership with Katie George Dunlevy. However, Eve has tasted long awaited success in her own right over the weekend as she recorded a magnificent victory in the Cycling Ireland Road National Championships.
It was Eve McCrystal’s moment to shine at the Cycling Ireland Road National Championships in Sligo today, when the Garda Cycling Club powerhouse seized her first National Title in the Elite Women’s Road Racing event. Lydia Gurley (Aerocoach) was narrowly beaten into silver, and Alice Sharpe (Torelli-Brother) took the bronze medal.
In the Junior Men’s Road Race Adam Ward (Powerhouse Sport) reigned supreme, winning the title in a two-man sprint for gold. Ben Healy (Zappi RT) added a silver medal to the National Time Trial Title he won last Thursday. Aaron Doherty (NRPT) won bronze, sprinting from a three-man group.
The elite women’s race was an exciting and active 102km race, which included a significant climb which tested the bunch. Orla Hendron (Scott Orwell Wheelers) set the tone of the day, attacking from the gun in a move that was eventually pulled back.
On the second lap VC Ériu rider Imogen Cotter attacked, with her teammate Hilary Hughes bridging the gap to her. The talent transfer duo held a lead of 25 seconds going into the climb but were pulled back before the end of the lap.
At the halfway mark, National Champion in the Elite Women’s Time Trial, Kelly Murphy (Chapter 2) piled on the pressure at the climb, resulting in a depleted lined out bunch, and the ultimate selection of the five riders who would battle out for the medals.
This breakaway group included McCrystal, Gurley, Sharpe and Katherine Smyth (Ballymena Road Club), with the strength of the group pushing the distance out to over three minutes over the chasing group which included defending champion Lydia Boylan.
On the final climb Murphy once again lifted the pace, distancing Smyth in the closing kilometres, and leaving the select four to battle it out for gold. With 200m to go the pace switched up a gear, and McCrystal made her way from fourth to first, just pipping Gurley on the line.
“I have been waiting for this for so long, and I will wear my jersey with pride,” said and emotional McCrystal after the race. “It’s amazing – it’s a long time coming. I just can’t believe it.”
“It was really hard – the climb, I just had to dig in on the third lap. I had to really hang in and do what I could do. At the end I had to see if I could go over the top with them and play to my strengths and go for the sprint.”