After a two-year layoff, the race – brimming with international cyclists from both sides of the Atlantic – returned to streets and roads of Kilkenny city and neighbouring counties over the past five days.
Kilkenny’s Mia Griffin slotted home in second place for a closing stage that took in Thomastown and Woodstock before finishing at Kilkenny Castle on Sunday afternoon.
Linda Kelly was best of the Irish while stage one winner Kaia Schmid is points classification winner.
Photos: Rás an mBan Day 6
How it all unfolded
Kaia Schmid took her second, and her team’s third win of Rás na mBan 2021 as she sprinted home on The Parade in front of Kilkenny Castle to win the sixth and final stage in Kilkenny on Sunday.
Schmid overhauled Team Ireland’s Mia Griffin, a native of Kilkenny, who was first into the final corner in her bid for a first stage success for Ireland in six years.
Stage five winner Makayla MacPherson made it two US Team Lux riders on the final stage podium in third place to cap a remarkable first visit to Rás na mBan for the Colorado-based team, a major development squad in US cycling.
Anna Shackley was safely in the main peloton to take the overall victory, the Team GB rider finishing the week just five seconds clear of her Great Britain national squad team-mate Abi Smith with Loec Adegeest of the Netherlands (Jan van Arckel) third overall at 44 seconds.
Best of the Irish overall was Alice Sharpe of Team, fourth at 57s from Shackley, with her team mate Kelly Murphy fifth at 1m31s and Natalie Grinczer (CAMS Basso) sixth, 1m49s behind the winner while the Irish National team scooped the overall team prize.
New Ross native Linda Kelly, guesting with Cycling Munster, scooped the Kilkenny County Council Best Irish Rider jersey, finishing the week 5m23s clear of team mate Becky Woods.
Shackley ended any mathematical chance of losing the Wicklow 200 IVCA Queen of the Mountains title by leading the field across the top of the single classified climb of Woodstock after 42km.
By the end of the day she had also taken the Women’s Cycling Ireland best Young Rider jersey to go with her overall success and her stage four victory in an impressive haul for the 20 year-old Scot.
By then the early attackers had been closed down, the most notable escape being Dewi Nicolai’s foray, the Team Noord Holland rider quickly replaced by Team Torelli’s Fiona Shroeder before she too was overhauled on the approach to Woodstock.
After the climb split the field, nine riders opened a small advantage including Linda Kelly, Kelly Murphy, Danni Shrosbree, Alice Sharpe, Loes Adegeest, Kaia Scmid, Abi Smith, Anna Shackley and Natalie Grinczer.
With differing agendas and more than half the stage still to run, the group lacked cooperation and a large bunch reassembled before Fernanda Yapura launched a solo bid for glory with 28km remaining.
The world championship rider from Argentina riding with the French Team Macadam’s Cowboys squad steadily increased her advantage as Linda Kelly (Cycling Munster) tried to bridge to Yapura before being reabsorbed.
Yapura’s lead extended to 58s with 15km to go before Team GB and Team Ireland began an urgent chase at the front of the chasing bunch. The leader’s advantage soon began to shrink and the Andy Schleck team also joined in the chase as the lead shrank to 32″ with 10km remaining and it was still 21″ with 4km remaining.
To the relief of the peloton and the disappointment of the exhausted Argentinian, Yapura was retained inside the final 3km as the bunch set up for a group sprint. Team Ireland’s Alice Sharpe lined the bunch out inside the final kilometre as Mia Griffin prepared to launch her final kick. Griffin took command on the approach to the final left-hander and powered up The Parade with dreams of glory on home roads.
Schmid had other ideas, the Massachusetts rider sprinting past Griffin in the last 10 metres to replicate her stage one success in Callan last Wednesday, the World Junior track champion once more demonstrating her fast finish virtuosity to complete the 15th edition of Rás na mBan in fine style.
Stage three winner Abi Smith ended an excellent week for Team GB with second overall, five seconds behind her teammate with Loes Adegeest in the final podium position, 44s behind the winner.
Smith took the Sport Ireland Points classification to complete the haul for Team GB who secured their second win in the last four editions.