There was another great evening of racing in the second round of the Wheelworx Orwell Ladies Crit League last Tuesday night, with 40 girls and women turning out.

First up was the Youth race, with Under 12/14/16s together in a three lap CP. Aine Keogh (Orwell) made good use of her head start and looked like she was going to hold off the chasers for a solo win, but when all of the groups came together with less than 100 metres to go, the older girls swept by to take all of the placings.

Rachael Kaye-Mellor (Orwell) used her impressive finishing kick to take the win ahead of Rebecca Heaney (SERC), who had made the long trip up from Wexford to take part.

Next up was the B race over 15 laps, split into three groups. Eileen O’Sullivan (Sorrento) wasted no time in taking off in search of a solo pillar to post victory.

Meanwhile, the groups behind were all working well together under the guidance of experienced Orwell riders Diarmuid Collins and Stephen Surdival.

Stephen later told us that he had planned to use this as his recovery spin after taking part in the gruelling Rás Mumhan at the weekend, but ended up spending half the race in fear of getting dropped by the Scratch group!

The two main bunches came together with a little over five laps to go, with Caroline Martinez (Orwell), Wendy Barry (Epic) and impressive newcomer Muirna Walsh (Lakeside) driving the pace. As the pace went up an elite group of six soon formed, including the three above along with Ailbhe Ivory (UCD), Ania Krol and Patricia Buckley (both Orwell). 

As this group pushed on leaving a string of dropped riders in their wake they finally reeled in the unfortunate O’Sullivan, who had spent three quarters of the race away on her own. New girl Krol was also particularly impressive in her first ever race, but when the hammer dropped with a lap to go she had nothing to respond with, and ended up finishing just off the back of the bunch for a fine sixth place.

Buckley attacked at the bottom of the drag to the finish line, and showed her strength to increase her gap all the way to the finish line and record her first race victory. The highly experienced Ivory sprinted in for second place, with Walsh earning just reward for the trip up from Mullingar in third place.

The A race was on an entirely different plane of intensity, with both groups putting on an exhibition for the B riders to watch and see how it should be done. Round one winner and league leader Mel Spath (Cycleways) sat this one out after having raced the Rás Mumhan at the weekend, so Róisín Kennedy (Lucan) once again got to wear the Wheelworx leaders jersey.

The main talking point of the race was the performance of Ciara Kinch (Orwell) who, thanks to an error of judgement on the handicapper's part, started with the limit group. Kinch, who had picked up her maiden victory only two days earlier in an IVCA race, rode her group off her wheel in the first two laps and wasn’t to be seen again.

The scratch group worked well together with everyone riding through, and reeled in the leading bunch after only seven laps, but at that point the gap to Kinch was still growing.

The pattern for the rest of the race was set, with the bunch chasing hell for leather to reel in the lone leader, with Anne Dalton (Orwell) and Sandra Fitzgerald (Lucan) in particular setting the pace, but as the laps ticked down it was becoming clear that Kinch wasn’t going to be caught.

Kinch took a very impressive solo victory having ridden on her own from start to finish and conceded less than 20 seconds to the chasing bunch over the whole race, and earned an upgrade to Scratch in the process.

Fitzgerald attacked with a well timed kick to comfortably take second place, followed by a hotly contested sprint for third place, with Dalton just squeezing provisional league leader Kennedy into fourth. Fitzgerald’s second place gives her the league lead overall, just ahead of team-mate Kennedy going into next week’s third round. 

We have to thank all of the helpers who came out to marshal, coach, or support in any way and in particular, thanks to our sponsor, Weelworx and to Brendan Culleton for his fantastic pictures at

The number of people who come out either to help or to watch grows with every race we run, and while the racing is up to the riders the atmosphere at the events gets better week on week as more people come out to support. If anyone is considering coming out to watch, stop thinking about it and just do it, you will find very few races better to watch than these!

Full league results can be viewed here.