Sixth-place finishes for Irish cyclists on final day of European championships

Lara Gillespie ended what was an encouraging but frustrating European Championships for her on Sunday, racing with Alice Sharpe to a sixth-place finish in the women’s Madison.

Gillespie went agonisingly close to a medal in three events, finishing fourth in the Omnium on Friday and in the Points race on Saturday.

She was also fourth alongside Sharpe, Mia Griffin and Kelly Murphy in Thursday’s bronze-medal final in the team pursuit.

She and Sharpe went into Sunday’s event hoping to land a medal but fatigued after a tough week’s racing, they finished sixth.

Murphy and Erin Creighton competed in the individual pursuit, taking sixth and 15th respectively. The event was won by Josie Knight, who competed for Ireland in the past but later declared for Britain.

Ireland’s strong showing in the championships should move the country closer to Olympic qualification. The riders had been ranked ninth in the team pursuit world rankings prior to the championships, with the top 10 teams in the world in April to secure a place in Paris.

They will likely leave the Netherlands encouraged by their showing, but Gillespie will also rue going so close to a medal without getting on to the podium. She is still just 22 years of age and is clearly a world-class rider.

At home, Dean Harvey successfully defended his national cyclocross title in the championships held at Limerick Racecourse.

“I’m just happy, and relieved,” the Trinity Racing rider said. “It’s hard when you come in as a favourite to do what you need to do but I’m glad. I did what I could do to my best and I’m happy with how it went.”

He beat Darnell Moore (Team Caldwell Cycles) plus his own team-mate Kevin McCambridge).

“It definitely wasn’t an easy race, but I think it went as good as I could have hoped. So I’m pretty happy.”

Aliyah Rafferty (Tofauti Everyone Active) won the elite women’s event despite being one of the youngest riders in the race. She beat another 16-year-old, Greta Lawless (Team WORC), and Caoimhe May (Orwell Wheelers), while Conor Murphy (Team Caldwell Cycles) got the better of Joseph Mullen (Zappi Racing Team) in the junior men’s event.

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