The full range of National Championships took place over the last few days in Carlingford, and of the Orwell finishers, it was Isabel Cogan who got the result of note: a superb top ten finish in the Elite Women's Road Race! Rachel Glendon's sixth in the TT also warrants kudos, as does Eric Downey's 40th in the men's race.

The Orwell particupation kicked off last Thursday in the Elite Women's TT, with Rachel Glendon the sole representative. Although not targetting the race, she treated it with the respect it deserved, pulling out all the stops to set a new personal best and claim an excellent sixth place.

The straight but lumpy course most favoured Caroline Ryan (Garda CC/Richie's Bike Store), with many riders suffering in the headwind on the way back.

Glendon has been using her TTs to improve her overall triathlon abilities, but that hasn't stopped her picking up plenty of medals along the way - most recently taking bronze in the Leinster 10TT, and bronze in the national Half-Ironman Champs in Meath in May. She was pleased with her place, especially the PB, and is hoping to compete in the club champs in future.

Glendon receiving her National Hill Climb Champion prize last year

Saturday was a damp and dull day for the Elite Women's Road Race. With the wet and windy conditions, there were a couple of unfortunate crashes, including one which forced Ciara Kinch to abandon. She was badly bruised, but thankfully nothing broken. Orla Hendon took to the start line despite being ill, but was unlucky to puncture early on, and had no choice but to pack. With her powerful kick, the finish would've suited Hendron well.

The top Orwell finisher, Isabel Cogan, was making her National Champs début and rode a tough race - getting caught out by a big split early on, but struggling valiantly against the wind before working her way back up through the cars to get back on. With the lesson learned the hard way, she positioned herself well throughout the rest of the race.

Whittled down from fifty starters, the reduced bunch was being controlled heavily, with any attacks being reeled back in swiftly, and the favourites marking each other.

Orwell's top sprinter Sandra Telford would've been in contention at the finish, had she not come down in a crash. It was a cruel end to Telford's chances at the title, but mindful of the team prize on offer, she heroically pushed on through the pain, displaying those hard road woman qualities that we admire so much.

Lucy Soden also rode a strong race, but like Cogan, she was caught out at the back when a split opened. She bravely battled on, spending several kilometres as a solo chaser - her savage performance in last Thursday's 10TT stood to her well. Having put in the work, she was then delayed behind a crash and eventually had to settle for coming in behind the lead group. Like Telford, she was also aware of the team GC, and refused to give up.

It came down to a bunch sprint, with the lead group of 21 riders all vying for the win. Melanie Späth (Team Tibco) won out over Siobhán McNamara (DID Electrical), but Cogan held her own to get up in the bunch and sneak into the top ten - an amazing result made all the more incredible considering she only started open racing last year.

Last year she topped the B division of the Wheelworx Orwell Ladies Crit League, and this year we've already mentioned her many times on these pages. Her most notable result to date was the Boyne GP at the start of June, but she had downplayed that victory due to some of the bigger domestic competition being absent. We hope this result is the validation she has been lacking, and look forward to seeing her in action at the Rás na mBan.

The other Orwell finishers were a bruised and bloodied Telford, and an exhausted Soden. Both put in performances of which they should be very proud. The National Champs is a tough and attritional race, and even finishing is a feat. The club were unlucky to lose the team competition to Phoenix CC, but the lack of prize should in no way diminish the efforts of every rider, which includes those who didn't make it to the finish line.

Other results of note were Michelle Geoghegan taking 11th in her Endura Lady Force WW Zeeuws-Vlaanderen colours, while Anne Dalton finished 17th riding for DID Electrical. She was helping Siobhán McNamara to her silver medal, and wouldn't have expected to feature in a bunch sprint, so a top twenty spot is a great accomplishment to complement the team's result. And over from her London base, Lydia Boylan was riding unattached and was unlucky to finish just outside the medals.

Cogan in the bunch, with Anne Dalton at her shoulder (photo: Brendan Slattery/

The Orwell finishers: Soden, Cogan and Telford (photo courtesy of John Troy)

In Sunday's Elite Men's Road Race, the Orwell contingent was a four strong team of A2s Tom Blennerhassett, Aidan Collins, Diarmuid Collins, and A1 Eric Downey. With several professional riders of a high calibre competing, the race was blown to bits early on, with nearly everyone being caught out by splits.

With the wind playing havoc in the bunch, small groups and echelons were the order of the day, and each of the lads fought on as long as they could before being shelled. Eric Downey was the only finisher, coming home in what was the only group larger than three riders. Along with 12 other riders, he was credited with a time of 11'19" and finished 40th.

As with the women's event, to even finish a National Championship earns bragging rights, and finishing 40th of 125 starters is a massive achievement, so congrats to Eric. While he makes everything look easy, he suffers like the rest of us, and to put in such a smashing ride in his début Nationals bodes well for future attempts at the title.

The rest of the lads, while probably not willing to take any praise for their day, acquitted themselves admirably against full-time cyclists. Diarmuid Collins in particular, who got in the saddle despite the presence of a cold, but both Aidan and Blennerhassett showed true grit in hanging on for as long as they did.

Downey receiving the Mick Lally Memorial trophy earlier in the year (photo courtesy of D Collins)

Earlier in the week, the Orwell women were preparing for the National Champs in Corkagh Park. Hosted by Adamstown CT and sponsored by, there was just a single handicap race, with the B group give almost a full lap's headstart.

The A group made the catch and took all the placings, with Orwell's Sandra Telford pipped on the line by Caroline Conway (DID Electrical), but scoring 2nd place, and Orla Hendron close behind in 3rd. Well done to both!

Sprint for the finish - Telford at right in Orwell kit, Hendron at left in baby blue Joe Daly's kit (photo courtesy of Brendan Culleton)

Elite Women's TT

1 Caroline Ryan (Garda CC/Richie's Bike Store) 00:57:56
2 Melanie Spaeth (Team Tibco) 00:58:20
3 Eve McCrystal (Garda CC/Richie's Bike Store) 00:58:54
6 Rachel Glendon (DTC Orwell Wheelers) 01:01:49

Elite Women's RR

1 Melanie Spath (Team TIBCO) 02:29:08
2 Siobhan McNamara (DID Electrical) Same Time
3 Mary Costelloe (Alliance Environmental) Same Time
4 Lydia Boylan (Unattached) Same Time
10 Isabel Cogan (DTC Orwell Wheelers) Same Time
11 Michelle Geoghegan (Endura Lady Force WW Zeeuws-Vlaanderen) Same Time
17 Anne Dalton (DID Electrical) Same Time
28 Lucy Soden (DTC Orwell Wheelers) 00:09:25
29 Sandra Telford (DTC Orwell Wheelers) 00:12:19

Elite Men's RR

1 Matt Brammeier (Champion Systems Pro CT) 04:09:32
2 Philip Lavery (Amicale Cycliste Bisontine) Same Time
3 Damien Shaw (Aqua Blue) 00:00:21
40 Eric Downey (DTC Orwell Wheelers) 00:11:19

Corkagh Park Ladies Racing - R3

1 Caroline Conway (DID Electrical)
2 Sandra Telford (DTC Orwell Wheelers)
3 Orla Hendron (DTC Orwell Wheelers)
4 Niamh Stephens (UCD CC)
5 Sandra Dennedy (U/A)

Unplaced Bs:
1 Emily-Anne Doyle (Naas CC)
2 Lyndsey O'Neill (Naas CC)
3 Cathriona Ryan (U/A)