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Mia Griffin during Paris-Roubaix; a race that almost ruined her season until a great run on her return from injury more than rescued 2023 (Photo: Thomas Maheux)

By Shane Stokes

She secured Ireland an Olympic road race slot one day before the deadline, but Mia Griffin has said that she is personally unlikely to compete in the event next summer.

The Kilkenny rider clocked up the best road result of her career last Tuesday when she finished third in the one day Tour of Guangxi. She finished just behind race winner Daria Piulik (Human Powered Health) and Chiara Consonni (UAE Team ADQ) in a 65 rider bunch gallop to the line, showing a dazzling burst of speed in the Chinese WorldTour event.

However even if she secured the Olympic place, she said she is very unlikely to ride the road race in Paris on July 27.

“I think for the track girls it will probably not be realistic to ride the road race, seeing as it unfortunately falls the day before the team pursuit,” she told stickybottle. “So the road race in the Olympics was not something that was on my radar.”

Griffin lost a long period of training and racing after sustaining a concussion in the women’s Paris-Roubaix on April 8th. Taking two stage wins in Rás na mBan in September showed she was on her way back, but her results in China this month have moved her to a new level.

On October 12th she placed eighth on the opening stage of the Tour of Chongming Island, another prestigious WorldTour event.

“We were trying to get our team together because we were trying to do a lead-out for a sprinter Maggie (Coles-Lyster),” she explained. “But we lost her. I finished eighth, Alice (Sharpe) finished 12th and our sprinter finished 10th on that day. We hadn’t got our lead-out properly organised.

“I had the opportunity to get a top ten result almost without any organized lead-out, and it was the same for Alice getting 12th.”

The duo spent the remaining two days of the race working for Coles-Lyster, sacrificing their chances for her in the intermediate sprints and in the buildup to the stage finishes. “I think our results in the last two days didn’t reflect the work that we did during the race,” Griffin explains.

However those efforts helped boot her confidence and paved the way for the podium finish in the Tour of Guangxi.

“I’m delighted about the third place,” she said. “When I was sprinting the door opened and I got a chance to plough through a gap and took it. It was surreal, definitely. I am really delighted to end the season on a note like that.”

The result was also a case of brilliant timing. On October 10th Ireland had 464.93 points, putting it 49th in the world rankings. That was outside the cutoff point for the Olympic road race, with teams placed between 21st and 45th in those rankings set to get one place.

However Griffin’s two big performances in China rocketed Ireland up those rankings, lifting it to 33rd place with 724.93 points one day before the deadline.

Griffin’s end of season flurry added 270 points, 260 from her third place in the Tour of Guangxi and 10 from her Tour of Chongming Island result.

Megan Armitage contributed 197.93 points while Lara Gillespie earned 181. Alice Sharpe and Rachel Neylan also contributed to Ireland’s total, adding 45 and 31 points respectively.

Even if Griffin is committed to a track rather than road campaign in the Paris Games, she did see the bigger picture for the country.

“It was half on my radar that we were close to qualifying an Olympic spot, but I didn’t know if it would happen or not,” she explained. “It’s really cool that we have finally qualified a spot. It is quite special, I think.”

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