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Fiona Mangan comes away from the National Road Championships as double Irish champ, in TT and road race, and was clearly blow away by the experience (Photo: Caroline Kerley)

Fiona Mangan (Cynisca Cycling) has come away from National Road Championships in her native Limerick with the best return possible; gold in both the elite TT and road race.

The 28-year-old, who should now be in with a great chance of a move to a bigger team, said she channeled the ‘Limerick factor’ to do the double – getting very familiar with the courses in advance and feeling inspired by having so many supporters present and having taken her first big win on the same roads a few years ago.

She put in a Trojan effort to win TT gold on Thursday night and on Saturday showed great bravery – and the class to match – to hunt down Grace Reynolds (Brother UK-Orientation Marketing) in the final. Reynolds had been clear solo for close to 70km, though Mangan sprung from the big name chasing group at the death to catch and pass the leader just before the line.

After the weekend of her career to date, and a few days she will never forget, cycling latecomer Mangan was clearly still taking it all in, especially after triumphing so spectacularly in championship racing where she said “you never know what’s going to happen”.

“To be honest I’m still a bit overwhelmed I knew I had good legs going into it and I really did study the course,” she said. “Like, I was saying at the time trial, I came out here last week and did a good few runs of it. It just gives you that confidence then during the race.

“I’ve actually raced with some of the girls in Europe as well over the years, so you know their strengths, but Nationals is always… you never know what’s going to happen.

“So I just tried to a attack a good bit at the start. Megan and Lara were also trying to attack, I thought we’d get away and then we were brought back. And then it’s a case of trying to mind your energy but also still trying to keep it hard and aggressive, you know.

“Grace got away and in fairness she put in some ride. We got into a group and I was trying to roar at everyone to work together to catch her. And Then when the gap started closing we started playing cat and mouse again.

“I just said I’d wait till the hill here because I knew after that you have a descent, so if I go hard as I can on the hill I’d be able to survive for the descent.

“So I tried on the first small lap and I couldn’t get away and then on the last one I just went as hard as I could up the hill. And I looked back and saw a gap and said ‘I’ve nothing to lose now, even if I get caught it’s the end’”.

She needn’t have worried as she caught and passed Reynolds just in time, with the solo attacker also just about holding on for silver, just a few lengths ahead of the chasing group. That group, galloping for the bronze, was led in by new World Tour rider, and last year’s winner, Lara Gillespie (UAE Team ADQ).

“It’s really special. I think Limerick, for me, I always get good luck here. When I won the National Series stage race in Newcastle West a few years ago, so that gave me confidence too coming into the race.”

Mangan said she was really looking forward to wearing the Irish champion’s livery, in both TTs and road races. She added she was hopeful more women would race in the future as the numbers at the championships were “quite low”.

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