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Cotter sprints to victory at National Championships

‘It feels like a dream, it really feels like a dream,’ the winner said after the race.

Megan Armitage (2nd), Imogen Cotter (1st) and Linda Kelly (3rd).
Megan Armitage (2nd), Imogen Cotter (1st) and Linda Kelly (3rd).
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

IMOGEN COTTER WAS victorious at the Senior Women’s Road Race National Championships in Wicklow earlier today.

The Belgium based Keukens Redant Cycling Team rider outsprinted Megan Armitage (Team Rupelcleaning – Champion Lubricants) and Linda Kelly (Barrow Wheelers) at the end of 93km of racing.

“It feels like a dream, it really feels like a dream.” she said at the finish. 

“I’ve said that about a million times since I have crossed the line, but I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it. I’m just so happy, I really wanted this so badly.”

“I had a bad year with racing and it’s only the last six weeks or eight weeks that it’s picked up for me and I was, I was just coming into this just focused, so focused on it. I just wanted it so badly.”

After 60km of racing a select group of five riders led comprising of Maeve Gallagher, Kelly, Cotter, Armitage and Lydia Boylan. This whittled down further until just three riders remained – Cotter, Armitage and Kelly.

Cotter had the legs to survive to the end and used positive self-talk to help her to victory.

“I just went for it, and I was thinking, in that moment where I was sprinting, I was just telling myself how much I wanted it, and I got it.”

imogen-cotter-wins-the-race Cotter of Keukens Redant Cycling Team wins the race. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Earlier in the junior men’s road race Darren Rafferty of Villeneuve Cycliste put on a dominant display adding to the Time Trial jersey he won on Thursday. Katharine Smyth of Ballymena Road Club claimed first place in the masters women event.

Meanwhile, British rider Lizzie Deignan won the inaugural women’s Paris-Roubaix cycling race on Saturday with a solo breakaway across the muddy, cobblestoned mining roads where many of her rivals suffered nasty falls.

Deignan entered the Roubaix velodrome alone to win the race in 2hrs, 55mins and 3sec, raising her arms in triumph after a courageous 80km solo break on a race known as ‘the Hell of the North’.

Dutch rider Marianne Vos was second at 1min 17sec with Italy’s Elisa Longo Borghini third at 1min 47sec.

Able to soak up the cheers on the two laps of the velodrome, Deignan, 32, eased over the line in a composed manner, while several of her competitors wept at the finish line.

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“I just feel so incredibly proud. Women’s cycling is at a turning point and this is part of history,” said Deignan before picking up her prize of a mounted cobblestone.

“Every fan watching is also making history. It proves there’s an appetite for women’s cycling and the athletes here can do one of the hardest races in the world,” she said.

“I’m so proud I can say I’m the first ever winner.”

–additional reporting by AFP

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