Fifty five ladies of all ages and abilities representing twenty clubs competed in the 2011 edition of the Wheelworx Orwell Women’s Criterium League sponsored by Wheelworx bike shop. After a promising first season, organisers Aideen Collard and Dave McLoughlin decided to build on this success and run the League again.

The league started with a five l\kilometre uphill time trial prologue won by Cycleways and Irish Development Squad rider Melanie Späth in a fantastic winning time of nine minutes 20 seconds. We were off to a great start with a good turnout including a lot of new faces recording some very strong times.

Then it was onwards to the criteriums - a format not often used in Ireland. The races are shorter, faster and more technical and traditional road-race tactics can sometimes go out the window. The League indeed delivered with excitement and prowess, with three different categories each Tuesday night attracting even more riders and spectators than last year.

The riders found the crit fomat excellent for improving conering and bunch skills as well as for getting a very good work-out.

For week-by-week round up of how the League unfolded see

The final round of the League was quite eventful with plenty left to race for in all three categories and spiced up with primes kindly sponsored by Winning Solutions and Joe Daly Cycles.

In the Girls race, Naoise Sheridan, who has gone from strength to strength this year already winning two under-12 open races, took the win, coming in 20 seconds ahead of her opponents.

In the B race, the tension was high and made for some serious racing as the top two girls in the table, UCD's Ailbhe Ivory and Orwell's Caroline Martinez, battled it out with the title in mind. The two worked together with the rest of the girls, whilst trying to save enough energy to contest what was to be a sprint finish. Unfortunately for the Orwell French woman, she crashed on the last lap and missed her chance. Caoimhe Ivory of Bray took the win followed by SERC’s under-16 rider, Rebecca Heaney in 2nd with Ailbhe Ivory taking 3rd place.

The Elite A race was dominated by Caroline Conway (Usher IRC) who took advantage of her handicap to go for a solo win, coming dangerously close to lapping the field at one point. She maintained a gap for the next 20 laps, crossing the line 40 seconds ahead of the bunch to leave race leader Sandra Fitzgerald (Lucan), Orla Hendron (Orwell) and Róisín Kennedy (Lucan) battling for the sprint for second.

Fitzgerald, true to form, accelerated in the final 200 metres to take second, with Hendron 3rd and Kennedy 4th. It is hard to believe that it’s just a year since Caroline Conway made her racing debut at the Crit League TT posting a decent time on a hybrid and has since transformed into a great rider taking her first big win.

The racing done, proceedings moved to the Blue Light Pub for a well deserved and anticipated BBQ and the all-important prize giving ceremony. With three race wins, last year’s Most Improved Rider Award winner, Sandra Fitzgerald, proved to us that she was indeed capable of much more, winning the overall title and taking home the Trophy; hers to keep until next year.

Team-mate Róisín Kennedy won a deserving silver in the A Division (placing in the top 4 in every round and wearing the Jersey in round 2 after the TT) with the ever improving Anne Dalton (Orwell) taking the bronze.

“I was delighted to win the League and couldn't have done it without the help and experience of my teammate Róisín Kennedy,” Fitzgerald said afterwards.

Conistently high placings across the board including a solo win earned Ciara Kinch (Orwell) fourth place overall. Likewise Monica Marconi (Henry J. Lyons) had good placings throughout the League to net her fifth place overall. With her meteoric progress throughout the League from Division B to placing in A, rookie, Ania Krol (Orwell) took the Best Newcomer Award and sixth place overall.

There were several other notable performances in the A Divison including those from Muirna Walsh (Lakeside) who upgraded from B to win the Most Improved Rider Award, gutsy 15-year-old Rachael Kaye-Mellor who held her own in the A Division having won the B Division last year.

Newcomer Patricia Buckley of Orwell featured with two B wins to earn an upgrade, Wendy Barry of Epic also upgraded and UCD’s Niamh Stephens who, by common consent, positively flying this year.

Ailbhe Ivory took the gold in the B Divison, demonstrating the great sprinter she is week after week. Younger sister Caoimhe took home silver and Orwell’s Caroline Martinez still held on to the last spot on the podium despite her accident. It’s heartening that some of this year's Elite racers came from the B Division last year and these ladies will hopefully be able to join them in 2012.

Impressive newcomer, Máire-Tríona Keane (Orwell) placed fouth overall. Rebecca Heaney and her family travelled up from Arklow for every round of the League and her weekly improvements in placings earned her fifth overall in the B Division.  Finally, Eileen O’Sullivan (Sorrento) took a well deserved 6th overall in the B Division.

The League organiser and riders would like to thank our generous sponsors, Wheelworx Bike & Tri Store, the Women’s Commission, Joe Daly Cycles and Winning Solutions. We also wish to thank everyone who raced, supported and helped out with the League and made it such a success.

Full league results and final table can be downloaded here

Division A - Final Round Results

1, Caroline Conway Usher IRC;

2, Sandra Fitzgerald Lucan;

3, Orla Hendron Orwell;

4, Róisín Kennedy Lucan;

5, Monica Marconi Henry J. Lyons;

6, Ania Krol Orwell.


Division A Final Round Primes

Sponsored by Winning Solutions and Joe Daly Cycles

Winning Solutions Prime 1, Caroline Conway, Usher IRC.

Winning Solutions Prime 2, Caroline Conway, Usher IRC.

Winning Solutions Prime 3, Caroline Conway, Usher IRC.

Joe Daly Cycles Prime 4, Caroline Conway, Usher IRC.


Division A - Overall Placings:

1, Sandra Fitzgerald, Lucan, 190 Points;

2, Róisín Kennedy, Lucan, 159 Points;

3, Anne Dalton, Orwell, 147 Points;

4, Ciara Kinch, Orwell, 122 Points;

5, Monica Marconi, Henry J. Lyons, 116 Points;

6, Ania Krol, Orwell, 113 Points.


Youth Race - Final Round Results

1, Naoise Sheridan, Orwell;

2, Rebecca Heaney, SERC;

3, Caoimhe Ivory, Bray;

4, Áine Keogh, Orwell;

5, Deirbhle Ivory, Bray;

6, Síobhán Keogh, Orwell. 


Division B - Final Round Results: 

1, Caoimhe Ivory, Bray;

2, Rebecca Heaney, SERC;

3, Ailbhe Ivory, UCD;

4, Máire-Tríona Keane, Orwell;

5, Naoise Sheridan, Orwell;

6, Carmel Buckley, Lakeside.


Division B Final Round Primes

Sponsored by Winning Solutions and Joe Daly Cycles

Winning Solutions Prime 1, Agnieska Kaletka, Orwell.

Winning Solutions Prime 2, Aoife Sheridan, Orwell.

Winning Solutions Prime 3, Rebecca Heaney, SERC.

Joe Daly Cycles Prime 4, Rebecca Heaney, SERC.


Division B - Overall Placings

1, Ailbhe Ivory, UCD, 147 Points;

2, Caoimhe Ivory, Bray, 134 Points;

3, Caroline Martinez, Orwell, 129 Points;

4, Máire-Tríona Keane, Orwell, 122 Points;

5, Rebecca Heaney, SERC, 111 Points (faster TT);

6, Eileen O'Sullivan, Sorrento, 111 Points.


Special Awards

Best Newcomer:  Ania Krol, Orwell.

Most Improved Rider:  Muirna Walsh, Lakeside.

We would encourage anyone who raced this League or indeed is interested in taking up racing to consider the Wicklow Ladies League beginning with a hillclimb TT next Tuesday 7th June 2011 and running for four weeks. Sign-on is at 6.50pm for a 7.30pm start in Ashford. For full details, please see

Photos courtesy of Brendan Culleton and Amy-Norah Farrell