The Stephen Roche GP treated onlookers to some spectacular entertainment last night, with family-friendly novice races, a set of youth races, and the headline event being shaped by several moves before James Davenport (SDCC) jumped well clear to take a superb win, all in the company of the man himself, Stephen Roche.

The numbers were lower than usual, thanks to the prolonged spell of rain that rested over the capital for the afternoon. The potential for a greasy course with the National Champs only a few days away meant many stayed at home, but still just under 70 riders signed on for the main event. The youth races were off first though, with a special guest of honour to start each event - Triple Crown winner and racing legend Stephen Roche himself was on hand to help give several youngsters their first taste of racing.


Youth/Novice Races

The U12 race of 2 laps was dominated by Lara Gillespie, who won by some distance, with silver and bronze going to the Newbridge CC siblings Cael Chanders and Victoria Chanders. Orwell's Andrew Ryan took part also, his first open race resulting in a two-up sprint for 4th, which he won with some panache.

Over ten riders were on the start line for the U14 event, where a chaingang of eight formed at the front to get around the 4 lap circuit. Navan, Lucan and Black Rose all had riders in there, but it was Liam Curley of SERC who won the sprint by several bikelengths. Shane Higgins (Black Rose) grabbed 2nd, while Cian May (Lucan CRC) held off the latter five riders to round out the podium.

Ciaran Keogh was unlucky to suffer a mechanical, but fought hard to get back to the front - so much so that he cramped, but finished in good spirits. Uisneach Sheridan approached it with his usual laidback fashion, pleased to be taking part and enjoying his evening.

For the final youth event, seven serious U16s lined up to compete for first place, including Adam Stenson in the jersey of the National Criterium Champion. He set the pace early on, matched at first only by Ryan Byrne (Wexford Wheelers). A tough chase brought things back together again, but ultimately it was Stenson who won out in a two-up sprint over Patrick Goszczyk (Inspiration). Byrne showed his earlier work hadn't fazed him to take the final prize from his rivals.

A very crowded novice race acted as a perfect warm-up to the headline event, with well over 20 riders being sent off by Stephen Roche. Some were back for yet another year, while others were making their début - starting what we hope will be the first of many races in a glittering career.

Several Orwell club members had children in the field, but the winner was a débutant from a set of St Tiernan's parents. Roisin Twomey has graduated from a balance bike to a single speed, and practices nearly every day on her Montessori commute. Those hours of training paid off, as she took a superb win despite a late attack from a young member of Team Sky.

Of the Orwells, Max Latham (aged 8) showed a clean pair of heels to nearly everyone else in his category, while sister Anna Latham (6) was top of the Orwell girls. Killian O'Brien (8) was unfortunate with a puncture before the race, but didn't let it rattle him, battling on for second place in his grouping after a closely fought sprint!

Conor McNally (12) and Aidan McNally (10) both featured in the novice race as well, with Conor quickest to the line for his handicap category, while Aidan was beaten by one of the Roche girls - no shame in that, they've got the best genes in the country!

The youngest competitor on the night was one Thomas Harte (2) in the Limit group, who crossed the line with joy evident on his face. Thomas Morelli and Ross Frehill were on hand as Orwell ambassadors on the other end of the age spectrum, and were at a severe disadvantage thanks to the headstarts given. Yet everyone was in agreement that it was great to give so many young riders a taste of racing, with Stephen McNally describing his lads as being "on a high afterwards".

Stephen Roche on the start line of the novice race


Stephen Roche GP

Everything was go for the main attraction then, and after Stephen Roche counted them down, the A3 bunch took off like a bullet. While the A2s cruised along before being easily caught by the A1s within a couple of laps, the aggression in the A3s for the first prime at Lap 3 was palpable.

National Junior Champion Fintan Ryan (NRPT) attacked from the gun, with our own Bryan Geary managing to bridge across to contest the first competition of the race. Ryan won out, before both were absorbed by the bunch, prompting an immediate counter-attack by Aidan Collins and latterly Blanch Wheelie's Damien Creighton.

Collins was aggressive throughout the night, while Fionn Sheridan marked the moves. Sheridan stayed near the front at all times, but never looked like he had to do any serious pulls, keeping his legs fresh for the finish.

Creighton won the prime on Lap 6 from Collins, and then pushed on to stay away. He was joined by clubmate Paul Coffey, and the Orwell element was replaced by Valdis Andersons. That trio had an protracted stint out front, with Coffey netting the Lap 10 prime.

By that stage of the race, the combined A1/2 group had hit the back of the A3s, and several of the stronger riders quickly made their way to the front.

Orwell's Collins again attacked, before a promosing move of UCD's Eoin Morton, pro rider Stephen Clancy (Novo Nordisk), Anthony 'Zippy' Doyle of VeloRevolutions and a constantly strong Creighton pulled off the front.

Morton then went solo, pulling out about ten seconds at the maximum, and collecting the prime on Lap 15 for his efforts. The pace of the case behind fractured the bunch, with the move of the night forming - Clancy, Brian Ahern (Orwell Wheelers), Darragh Long (NRPT), Andrew Stanley (DUCC), Mick Fitzgerald (VeloRevolutions) and James Davenport (SDCC).

That group worked well together to reel Morton in, and then set about extending their lead on the peloton behind. Small groups took up the chase, with Colm Laverty (Stamullen), Graham Thomas (Lucan CRC) and Daragh Campbell (Novo Nordisk) looked like they were motoring, but with Campbell not obliged to chase his teammate up the road, it was eventually pulled back.

That was the situation for much of the rest of the race, save for Mark Dowling's brave effort to bridge the ever-widening gap. The DID Dunboyne man spent at least ten laps in no man's land, but never looked like he was gaining on the front group after his initial push. He stayed away from the main pack for the duration though, a superhuman effort for a solo run.

With two primes left, Junior Long collected the Lap 20 prize, and Stanley won on Lap 25.

As the laps counted down to the finish line, Davenport made his race-winning move, jumping clear of the break. The rest all hesitated, watching each other, and with nobody chasing, the South Dublin rider put his head down and concentrated on pulling away.

Each time Davenport crossed the finish line, his head was bobbing with every pedal stroke, his mouth was open to draw in as much oxygen as his muscles could process, the agony and exertion telling on his face, all the while the crowd cheered him on. With three laps to go, his lead was unassailable, and as he got the bell he was almost on top of the main bunch.

When he got the chequered flag, nearly all eyes missed him, as he was mixed in with the last of the riders on their final lap. He had both arms aloft in celebration, a well deserved win that nearly resulted in him lapping the field.

Davenport enjoying his win, as he comes across with the last of the main pack (photo thanks to Jim Davenport)

The contest for second was won by UCD's Morton, who continued a string of successful placings when he got the jump on sprinter Ahern. Orwell's Rás legend was only on his second race of the season, and pleased with his podium.

Trinity's Stanley fended off the US-based Clancy to take a fine 4th. Fitting for the Roche GP, Long earned 6th for the Nicolas Roche Performance Team, while Fitzgerald took the final spot in the break. Dowling held on to win the last of the overall prizes, 8th seeming scarce reward for his efforts.

A spill on the hairpin turn on the last lap meant a lack of bunch sprint, but Orwell's Fionn Sheridan reaped the reward of his earlier attack at the bell to take 9th place and 1st unplaced A3 with a large gap. Paul Coffey of Blanch Wheelies added to his earlier prize, coming in behind Sheridan for 2nd unplaced A3.

SDCC weren't content with Davenport's win - Dave O'Reilly won 1st unplaced A2, and Dave O'Connor of Park Wheelers was 2nd unplaced A2.

Valdis Andersons nearly went home empty-handed despite his early efforts in the break, but instead scored top unplaced Orwell at the close.

We would like to thank all who made the race possible - club members who organised and marshalled (especially the chief marshals!) or did lead car, those who did commentary and MC duties, all the spectators who came to watch and support the riders, Joe Daly Cycles for sponsoring the youth races, and particularly the Meadowmount residents for their annual cooperation and good nature.

There are countless names to list, so we won't try, but you know who you are! We would like also to say a special thank you to Stephen Roche for coming this year, and well done to all the riders who finished what is always a tough race.




Stephen Roche GP (Meadowmount (25/6/2014)

1 James Davenport (South Dublin CC)
2 Eoin Morton (UCD)
3 Brian Ahern (Orwell Wheelers)
4 Andrew Stanley (DUCC)
5 Stephen Clancy (Novo Nordisk)
6 Darragh Long (NRPT)
7 Mick Fitzgerald (VeloRevolution)
8 Mark Dowling (DID Dunboyne)

Unplaced A2s
1 (Dave O'Reilly (South Dublin CC)
2 (Dave O'Connor (Park Wheelers)

Unplaced A3s
1 (Fionn Sheridan (Orwell Wheelers)
2 (Paul Coffey (Blanch Wheelies)

First unplaced Orwell Wheeler
Valdis Andersons

Lap 3: Fintan Ryan (NRPT)
Lap 6: Damien Creighton (Blanch Wheelies)
Lap 10: Paul Coffey (Blanch Wheelies)
Lap 15: Eoin Morton (UCD)
Lap 20: Darragh Long (NRPT)
Lap 25: Andrew Stanley (Dublin University)

Under 16 Race
1 Adam Stenson (LCRC)
2 Patrick Goszczyk (Inspiration)
3 Ryan Byrne (Wexford Wheelers)

Under 14 Race
1 Liam Curley (SERC)
2 Shane Higgins (Black Rose)
3 Cian May (LCRC)

Under 12 Race
1 Lara Gillespie (u/a)
2 Cael Chanders (Newbridge CC)
3 Victoria Chanders (Newbridge CC)

Novice Race
1 Roisin Twomey (St Tiernan's CC)