Two full handicap road races over two weeks saw two winners take to the line with clear gaps over the bunch. The difference in the size of the gaps was substantial, as Scott Gilchrist's race-long solo break last night ended two minutes ahead of the chasers, while Brian McArdle's late attack last week gave him just enough for a comfortable victory.

A small Limit group of six riders was merged with Semi-limit's 17 for the first bunch, while 10 Semi-scratch and 13 Scratch riders set off separately in pursuit.

Each group worked well together, though Semi-scratch splintered and were hoovered up by the Scratch train in ones and twos. Scrach lost a valuable asset when Sallygap winner Diarmuid Collins punctured within 10km, and likewise for Semi-scratch when Aideen Keenan was similarly unlucky in the opening stretch.

The long straights of the Green Sheds circuit allowed for efficient co-operation in each set of racers, and a perfect handicap meant it didn't come together until 5km from the finish.

The Trim Road saw the first attacks, as the more aggressive tried to break the elastic - the likes of Freddie Stevens and Valdis Andersons, while Kengine O'Neill was looking strong too. Fast finishers Conor and Seán Murnane was alive to every danger and marking every move.

As the bunch hit the home run, it was fracturing at the front with the high speeds, but Brian McArdle took advantage of a stall to launch himself with about 600m to go. He got a decent gap, and then held it to the line, as those behind saved their legs for the sprint for 2nd.

It was a very tight night, and judges were reliant on the photo evidence to separate the next two. Gavin Dodd successfully pipped the evergreen Romano Morelli right on the line, with Dick O'Brien showing his recovery from illness is complete by taking 4th.

5th went to Jamie Busher, whose legs bettered Aidan Collins only in the final metres. The rest of the bunch streamed in on their wheels, with a lot of tired bodies.


McArdle crossing the line, followed by a very tight sprint (thanks to David Hendron)

 

Round 10 took place on the opposite side of the city, with a new circuit from Blessington to Ballymore Eustace being used. A drag up to the gates of Russborough House would make for a tough finish.

With the further distance and the extra marshalling requirements, only 41 riders were signed on for racing. 10 Limit were given three minutes over 13 Semi-limit, with a further three minutes back to a small Semi-scratch gang of six, with twelve Scratch facing a daunting 12 minutes to the leaders. They were at a disadvantage from the off with Ken O'Neill falling victim to a mechanical.

The lumpy and technical course wore down most of the front groups quicker than the stronger Scratch riders, but the catch was never made. As Scratch once again mopped up a fragmented Semi-scratch, Limit and Semi-limit came together.

However, one rider was not in any of those groupings - on his first night racing in the league, Scott Gilchrist took off from Limit at the earliest opportunity, and left them all behind. He was never even in sight for the entire length of the race, and finished over two minutes ahead of the rest of the bunch gallop.


Gilchrist approaching the line with nobody in sight. He was unfortunately too fast to be captured at the moment of the win. (thanks to Ken O'Neill)

The placers were all Semi-limit men, with Stephen Hayden leading the charge out front. Stephen Rowan took 3rd by a wheel from Oisin Boland, who just managed to edge out Arek Pierozynski. A3 man Paul Kane took the last of the placings in 6th.

The Scratch chasers came home 28" later (timings thanks to Dan Coulcher), failing to get to grips with the large handicap, and ruing what might've been had they pushed a little harder. But it seems unlikely they'd have ever come close to Gilchrist's storming ride, which will see him heavily marked in Semi-limit for future rounds.


The SL sprinters, led by Hayden (thanks to Aidan Collins)

 

Orwell League R9: Green Sheds RR (28/5/2015)

1 Brian McArdle (S)
2 Gavin Dodd (S)
3 Romano Morelli (SL)
4 Dick O'Brien (S)
5 Jamie Busher (SS)
6 Aidan Collins (S)

 

Orwell League R10: Russborough House RR (4/6/2015)

1 Scott Gilchrist (L)
2 Stephen Hayden (SL)
3 Stephen Rowan (SL)
4 Oisin Boland (SL)
5 Arek Pierozynski (SL)
6 Paul Kane (SL)

 

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