Makayla MacPherson sprinted home on The Parade in front of Kilkenny Castle to win the stage five city circuit race in Kilkenny on Saturday evening, with 77 cyclists making the starting line
MacPherson’s dominant sprint performance carried her several bike lengths clear of the rest of a 48-rider group that contested the penultimate stage of the race on a two-kilometre circuit starting at the Marble City’s most iconic landmark.
The 18-year-old from Corona California emulated the stage one success of her teammate Kaia Schmid as she led through the final corner at the end of a high octane hour of racing to power up the final 100m gentle rise to the line.
MacPherson had earlier take the first of two primes to signal her sprint ability and, after Switzerland’s Lena Mettraux of Andy Schleck CP NVST Immo Loch had taken the second mid-race prize, the pace steadily rose towards the anticipated bunch finish.
Sustained efforts from Loes Adegeest (Jan van Arckel) to break clear of the field came to little as race leader Anna Shackley (Team GB) and her second-placed team-mate Abi Smith diligently tracked their nearest general classification rival.
The final lap of the race turned out to be the fastest and began with Alice Sharpe setting the pace as she looked to place her teammate and Kilkenny woman Mia Griffin into prime position.
Griffin was briefly delayed on the run to the final turn and Sharpe was overtaken by others into the final bend with MacPherson timing her lunge to perfection as she powered through the final corner on the way to glory and the Just-Print.ie Stage Winners jersey.
Paulien Koster of the Jan Van Arckel squad in the Netherlands finished second with Léna Mettraux third. Kaia Schmid was a significant fourth which helped her to take over the lead of the Sport Ireland Points Classification while Lisanne Immerzeel (Team Noord Holland) was fifth ahead of the Team Ireland duo, Alice Sharpe and Mia Griffin.
Fellow Kilkenny woman Elizabeth Kent posted a time of 1:00:08 to come home 69th overall
Shackley’s eighth-place finish ensured that she retains her five-second lead over Abi Smith as well as the lead in the Women’s Cycling Ireland Young Rider classification to go with the lead in the Wicklow 200 Queen of the Mountains competitions.
Linda Kelly (Cycling Munster) was safely in the main peloton and will carry a healthy 5:23 lead over teammate Becky Woods in the battle for the Kilkenny County Council Best Irish Rider competition.
The riders face an 88km final stage starting in Springhill Court Hotel and winding its way back to Kilkenny Castle with the challenging climb of Woodstock near Inistioge along the way after which the winner of Rás na mBan 2021 will be known.