Dutch Sprinter Gallops into Gowran
Justifying her status as the standout sprinter on the entry list, Nina Kessler of Regio NH sprinted in ahead of a group of 67 to take the first stage of Rás na mBan 2018 in Gowran.
Dutchwoman Kessler is guesting with her Noord Holland regional team on a week away from duties with the HiTec world tour squad and added to a palmarès with a powerful sprint on the rise to the finish line at the end of 70km in County Kilkenny
119 riders representing 25 teams and 19 different nations signed on in Kilkenny ahead of stage one of the Five-Day Rás na mBan International Women’s Stage Race.
For the 13th edition of the event and the third time it has been based in the Marble City, the organisers have assembled a quality selection of international teams including last year’s individual and team winners, Team GB and, for the first time in several years, an Irish national team including Irish national road race champion Eve McCrystal.
The riders faced a grippy first 70km stage with a single Wicklow 200 Queen of the Mountains climb won in a close contest by Britain’s Nicola Juniper guesting with TC Racing.
The fast pace whittled the lead group down to around half the riders approaching the finish town of Gowran and it was Kessler (Team NH) who powered home to secure the first Fuchsia jersey of overall race leader.
Leading womenscycline.ie Under-23 rider Claire Faber (Andy Schleck Cycles Women’s Project) was second with Norway’s Amalie Lutro (Regio Sør Norge) taking the final podium spot.
Kessler also leads the Irish Dairy The Complete Natural Points Classification while Bandon CC’s Agniezka Wozniak (Team Verge) is the best placed locally-based rider for the Kilkenny County Council Best Irish Rider.