Scottish cyclist Kate Richardson showed fierce determination to finally land a stage win on today’s summit finish to The Cut in the Slieve Bloom Mountains, Co Laois.
The Alba Development Race Team rider crossed the line ahead of Team LDN – Brother UK’s Alex Morrice and Cams-Basso’s Becky Storrie, with stage two victor and overall race leader Lieke van Zeelst just outside the podium in fourth. Magenta jersey wearer Van Zeelst’s effort was enough to consolidate her five-second lead over Richardson in the overall classification ahead of Saturday’s fourth stage.
With Wednesday and Thursday taking place in Kilkenny, Friday’s mid-point stage headed to Laois, beginning in Portlaoise before carving a trail for the Slieve Bloom mountains with a finish at The Cut.
Team Ireland’s Kelly Murphy and IBCT-RDL Team’s Svenja Betz were among the early protagonists, with both making attempts to establish a gap on the peloton in advance of the first category ascent of the Wolftrap.An alert peloton led by Cams-Basso and Pro-Noctus – Rotor – Redchilli Bikes were quick to respond, however, with Murphy and Betz’s endeavours joining the several mid-stage attacks to be reeled in.
The weather closed in on the approach to the Wolftrap, with a heavy downpour only giving way to the dense clouds once the road started rising through the forested 8.6-kilometre-long climb.
IBCT-RDL Team were again active, setting the pace on the front of the main bunch which was steadily whittled down to fewer than 20 riders by the summit. The lead group included overall leader Van Zeelst, Queen of the Mountains leader Danni Shrosbree and Points classification leader Richardson, amongst a selection of other favourites for the stage.
Cams-Basso’s Shrosbree set out to defend her IVCA Wicklow 200 Queen of the Mountains classification lead, taking fourth over the top of the Wolftrap before a mechanical issue hindered her chances of further points at the summit finish.
A fast descent to the foot of the final 4.4-kilometre ramp to The Cut briefly allowed the lead group to swell to around 25 riders, before Richardson, Morrice, Storrie, Van Zeelst and Pro-Noctis – Rotor – Redchilli Bikes’ Zoe Langham broke free to contest the stage win.
A storming sprint from Richardson proved too powerful for the others in the lead group, with the Scottish rider holding on to take a well-deserved stage win.
Richardson’s victory was enough to extend her leads in the Sport Ireland Points and Women’s Cycling Ireland Best Young Rider classifications. The maximum 12 points on offer for first over the line in the IVCA Wicklow 200 Queen of the Mountains classification was also sufficient to overhaul Shrosbree’s grasp on the jersey.
A valiant defence of the magenta jersey by Van Zeelst saw her finish level on time with Richardson, who remains five seconds off the lead in second place overall. Cycling Ulster’s Amelia Tyler recovered well to retain the lead of the Kilkenny County Council Best Irish Rider jersey, after being caught behind a crash just before the Wolftrap climb.