The Orwell A4s are taking the road race scene by storm at the moment. On Saturday Freddie Stevens took the win in Carlow, with Mark Holland in 2nd. Last weekend Stephen Barry was victorious in Wexford, while before that Emyvale saw Daragh Boyd take 2nd, Shane Toman 5th, and Ken O’Neill 7th. On top of that, Ann Horan finally got her elusive win!

Mark Holland kicked it all off in Dunsany at the start of May, and the following weekend the Orwell A4 troops migrated north to Emyvale to try their chances.

Cycling Ulster reported that the bunch stayed together for most of the three lap race, with a bunch gallop deciding the placings. Graham Scanlon however made a great contribution inside the final 10km, launching Ken O’Neill into a trademark late solo attack.

O’Neill was caught inside the final kilometre, and the bunch gallop ensued. In a very tight finish, Daragh Boyd was narrowly denied the win, coming home in a superb 2nd place behind a local lad. Shane Toman took a fine 5th, while O’Neill had enough left in the tank to feature in a solid 7th.

Boyd’s podium came after his excellent positioning the entire race, never leaving the top 15. That marks his first open points, long overdue at this stage. As an integral part of the Orwell A4 team, it won’t be long before we see his racing add to his own or a teammate’s totals.

In the women’s race, Ann Horan crowned a great 2015 season by finally getting that elusive win. After a smashing 2nd in Blarney back in March, has been peaking for the National League races, taking 4th in Bohermeen in April. The triumph is her best open result to date, and is a great indication of form on the run-up to the National Champs.

Unfortunately she was involved in a collision on a descent in Kilkenny yesterday, and will face a quick period of recovery before coming back stronger, faster and well-rested! That race was won by Ciara Kinch for Towers CC, her first win in her new colours!

Emyvale winners - Toman, Horan and Boyd (photo thanks to Daragh Boyd)

We've already reported on Wexford, where Stephen Barry beat all comers at the Barrow GP.

Carlow was then the scene this weekend for Freddie Stevens to finally realise his potential. The racing freshman had previously opted for Cork over Emyvale, and lit up the St Finbarr’s GP with a solo effort that lasted for much of the second half of the race. Despite that, he still managed to finish in the top 20, and received much recognition and plaudits for the organisers.

Moral victories don’t win trophies though, but Stevens now has both! The Mark Hayden Memorial took place in windy conditions, and a bunch sprint was always likely. Mark Holland and Stevens were both feeling strong as the race neared its close, and Holland takes it up:

  "The home stretch coming into the finish had a strong headwind. At the 1km mark to go Freddie and I looked at each and smiled, neither of us were willing to go early! There were a couple of small attacks in the final few hundred metres but all chased until a rider attacked and Freddie jumped on this wheel I followed and then Freddie put the hammer down overtaking the rider and opening a gap. I followed but didn't have enough to catch his very impressive sprint.

  "Loads of Orwell work done today with Shane, Freddie and Jeff up the front or starting breaks. Overall the peloton was negative enough with no one really apart from Orwell a couple of others willing to try to break. This meant the pace dropping off a lot in parts."

That's a fantastic 1-2 for the club, with Holland's silver also earning him an upgrade to A3, where we expect more of the same!

Stevens awarded his trophy (photos thanks to Carlow RCC)

Add those three recent wins to the victories by Bernard Lawless on St Patrick’s Day and Garry Blair at the Boyne GP, and numerous placings and podiums, and it all adds up to a fantastic season for the so-called novice racers. Unpinning it all has been a generous team spirit, with every rider willing to work for each other and communicating well before and during races.

Accompanying that is Dave Mc’s early-season training sessions, encouragement and advice before each and every race on how to best approach it. With several riders either gone to A3 or on their way, we hope to see the same calibre of results and effort against the Juniors for the rest of the season, and beyond!


Emyvale GP, Emyvale (17/5/2015)

A4 Race
1 Mark Andrews (Emyvale CC)
2 Darragh Boyd (Orwell Wheelers)
3 Brian Ruane (Lucan)
4 Tony Pryce (Sheelin Flyers)
5 Shane Toman (Orwell Wheelers)
6 Michael McMahon (Blanch Wheelers)
7 Ken O'Neill (Orwell Wheelers)
8 Gareth McFarland (Clogher Valley Wheelers)

Women's Race
1 Ann Horan (Orwell Wheelers)
2 Michelle O'Halloran (Lakeside Wheelers)
3 Niamh Stephen (UCD)
4 Evan Bartley (Lakeland CC)
5 Sonia O'Mahoney (Lakeside Wheelers)
6 Lorraine Mullarkey (Emyvale CC)


Mark Hayden Memorial, Carlow (30/5/2015)

A4 Race
1 Freddie Stephens (Orwell Wheelers)
2 Mark Holland (Orwell Wheelers)

3 Declan McCarthy (Southside Wheelers)
4 Fergal Kennedy (Marble City cyclers)
5 Ray Molyneaux (Navan CC)
6 Gearóid Costello (GT Wheelers)