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Annalise Murphy beats Tuva Aarø Mauland in the sprint for victory in Carlow after the sailing Olympic silver medal winner showcased her road racing talents (Photo: Sean Rowe)

Annalise Murphy may have impressed most often on the track since making the switch from sailing to cycling, but the Olympic silver medalist very much showcased her road racing abilities at the Des Hanlon Memorial in Co Carlow on Sunday.

Murphy (Longcourt Hotel-NCW Wheelers) took an aggressive approach to the race, the opening round of the Cycling Ireland National Road Series, and was clearly intent on making it hard from the early stages.

And that tactic paid dividends as she eventually pulled away with Norwegian teenager Tuva Aarø Mauland (Brother UK-Orientation Marketing).

While they were almost caught by a couple of tenacious chasers, the stayed clear and fought it out for victory in a two-up sprint, with Murphy getting the better of her young rival on the line to win the day.

Just behind them, 3rd place was settled in another two up sprint, between Aoife O’Brien (Belco Van Eyck) and Jemma Speers (North Down CC), with O’Brien seeing off Speers in that contest.

But the day belonged to Murphy, the double sailing Olympian who won silver at the Rio 2016 Games and was also a European champion during her long career.

She has come through very strongly in the last couple of years on the bike, adding her big road race win yesterday – in one of the most prestigious one-day races in Ireland – to the three Irish track titles she won last year, in the individual pursuit, team pursuit and madison.

Yesterday, along with her team mates from Longcourt Hotel-NCW Wheelers, Murphy set her stall out early; forcing the pace when she could and eventually getting clear in a five-rider group.

With Murphy were: O’Brien, Speers, Mauland and Emma O’Brien (Greenmount Cycling Academy). Behind them, last year’s winner Caoimhe O’Brien (Das-Handsling) was leading the chase, though the leaders were cooperating and were never to be see again.

As the race entered the final 15km, Murphy was once again pushing on the pedals up front, forcing the split that saw herself and Mauland ride away from Aoife O’Brien and Gemma Speers, though that duo fought all the way to the line to try and get back on.

With the two two-up sprints settling 1st and 2nd, and then 3rd and 4th, Abi Conway (Westport Covey Wheelers Cycling Club) came through best of the rest for 5th.

Elia Tutty (UCD Cycling Club) was 6th while Ellen Ni Cleirigh (Longcourt Hotel-NCW Wheelers) was 7th and Elena Wallace (Harps CC) was 8th. Kate Murphy of Sliabh Luachra Cycling Club, who is really impressing this year, took the junior prize.

“For the first lap, we were pretty much all together and I was feeling very good on the climbs,” said Murphy, who added she was thankful she had worn winter leggings and overshoes.

“So I was just making it hard for everyone; just to see if it would break up a bit. And then there ended up being a group of five of us.

“We worked together well for most of the next lap and I was just trying to do a few small attacks on the climbs and then actually got away with one other rider for probably the last 15 kilometres.

“And the two of us were going, but then we kind of slowed down… I felt like I was doing quite a bit of the work. I felt really strong but that doesn’t mean you’re going win a bike race.

“So I didn’t want to do all the work and then be out-sprinted. And then Aoife and Jemma nearly caught back up to us in the end, but I just got it in the sprint, it was a great race.”

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