The weather could not have been more different, but Orwell riders brought home the bacon both days last weekend. In Summerhill, Tom Blennerhassett, David Halpin and Brian McNally lit it up on Dorey's Forge, while in Navan Ciara Kinch tore it up for second place, while Juniors Rachael Kaye-Mellor and Naoise Sheridan also took home prizes.

Saturday was bright and sunny, though with a chill in the air. Dublin Wheelers were running their traditional set of races, the headline event being the Mick Lally Memorial, while the A3s competed in the more recently commemorated Ian Gallaher Memorial. Rounding off the day was the Dublin Wheelers GP for A4 riders.

Tom Blennerhassett had opened his season at the Ned Flanagan Memorial in Monasterevin, but this weekend was his first target. He started with the A2s, a few minutes ahead of a strong A1 pack who quickly not only caught the A2 bunch, but proceeded past them under the leadership of Philip Lavery, the overall victor.

Along with Aidan Collins, Blennerhassett bided his time in the peloton, content to let the strong men beat each other up. When the main field neared the bottom of the finishing ramp of Dorey's Forge, there was a surge of attacks after last year's winner Eric Downey, who made a late break. Blennerhassett had the tactical nous and the wherewithal to hang back and wait until the crucial moment at the line to accelerate and take the first unplaced A2 prize.

Blennerhassett is best known for his testing abilities, winning the 40TT Championship last year in the club league, and has been a hard-working mechanic for Orwell's Rás teams. This season he's invested in a hard winter training regime, and it's paying dividends for him. We'll be expecting a few more results in the coming months!

The A3 and A4 events both ended with a bunch sprint, with David Halpin pushing hard at the close to take the last of the A3 prizes in 8th, while Brian McNally infiltrated the front of the bunch to take a great 5th place. Halpin couldn't be reached for comment, but McNally expressed some frustration that he didn't unleash his sprint sooner.

At such an early point in the season, placings in races with such large fields are an encouraging indicator of the form of the Orwell riders.

The weather on Sunday in Navan as riders warmed up for the Cycleways Cup was wet, cold and generally better suited to an afternoon at home in front of the fire. However, a large contingent of hardy Orwell women were out to represent the club, as well as at least four male riders in the other races.

Six Orwellians of a total turnout of sixteen meant it the pressure was on, with DID Electrical ready to challenge. A flurry of attacks by Caroline Martinez (DID Elextrical) and Orla Hendron meant several moves went away in the early stages, but failed to stay away from a surging pack.

The race fragmented over the single climb, and eventually a two-woman move of our own Ciara Kinch and Sarah Piner (DID Electrical) took off. Rachael Kaye-Mellor and Fiona Guihen (DID Electrical) then bridged, but the pace burnt out the young Kaye-Mellor and she fell back to the bunch. Piner was also distanced, and the finish came down to a two-up sprint between Kinch and Guihen.

Guihen got the better of Kinch in the run-in, her local knowledge aiding her kick. Piner crossed the line solo for 3rd, with a diminished pack coming in over a minute behind the winner. At the head of that sprint with bike-lengths to spare was a rampaging Kaye-Mellor, grabbing a fine 4th place, with Ann Horan and Hendron just behind her.

Orwell take the bunch sprint

Siobhán O'Connor was out for her first race of the season, coming across the line solo ahead of the pairing of the ex-Orwell Martinez and Naoise Sheridan. Sheridan has just graduated from the youth ranks, and earned herself the first unplaced Junior prize in her first race as a Junior. She is spending 2014 as the only female representative for the Verge clothing brand, so we wish her the best of luck for what is already shaping up to be a stand-out year.

Two Orwellians made early starts in the Cowboy/girl of the Year runnings, with Kinch taking her second place in a pair of UCD shorts after she had forgotten her own. That was beaten by Philippe Bourdarias, who was starting his season's racing in Navan. Unfortunately the A2 missed the race start by three minutes, and could only ride around with the A4s for a workout lap.


Mick Lally Memorial, Sumerhill (1/3/2014)

A1/A2 Race
1 Philip Lavery (Synergy Baku)
2 Anthony Walsh (UCD CC)
3 Javan Nulty (DID Dunboyne)
4 Danny Bruton (NRPT-Standard Life)
5 Sean McKenna (UCD CC)
6 Anthony Doyle (VeloRevolution) 

Unplaced A2s
1 Tom Blennerhasset (Orwell Wheelers)
2 Alan Grey (Cuchulainn CC)
3 Hughie McMahon (VeloRevolution)

Ian Gallahar Memorial (A3)
1 John Priest (Lucan CRC)
2 Bob Murray (Nenagh)
3 Adam Swirydowicz (McNally Swords CC)
4 Liam Maloney (Dublin Wheelers CC)
5 Mark Nicholls
6 Daragh Campbell (Novo Nordisk)
7 Ronan Killeen (Lucan CRC)
8 David Halpin (Orwell Wheelers)

Unplaced Juniors
1 Conn McDunphy (Lucan CRC)
2 Seamus Sinnott (Wexford Wheelers)
3 Alan Lynn (Bikeworx)

Dublin Wheelers GP (A4)
1 David Richardonson (Club Rothaiochta Na Sionnaine)
2 Eoin Woolley (North Tipp Wheelers)
3 Paul Woods (Dan Morrissey)
4 Kevin Sherlock (Nenagh)
5 Brian McNally (Orwell Wheelers)
6 Hugh Flannery (Nenagh)


Cycleways Cup, Navan (2/3/2014)

A1/A2 race
1 Damian Shaw (Aquablue)
2 Anthony Walsh (UCD CC)
3 Dylan Foley (Aquablue)
4 Fraser Duncan (Northern CC)
5 Conor Murphy (Caldwell Cycles-Omagh)
6 Sean Lacey (Aquablue)

Unplaced A2s
1 Paul Ferguson (North Down CC)
2 David Watson (North Down CC)
3 Sean McInerney (Galway Bay CC)

A3 race
1 Fintan Ryan (NRPT)
2 Mark Downey (NRPT)
3 Sean Hahessy (Iverk Produce Carrick Wheelers)
4 Stephen Shanahan (Limerick CC)
5 Sean Bracken (Usher IRC)
6 Ronain Stewart (SERC)
7 Ben Dunne (Tullamore CC)
8 Padraig Hughes (Western Lakes CC)

Unplaced Juniors
1 Dermot White (Lucan CC)
2 Craig McAuley (NRPT)
3 John Reynolds (Stamullen)

A4 race
1 Keith Coffey (Blanch CC)
2 Terry O’Malley (UCD CC)
3 Brian Hammond (Lucan CC)
4 Michael Wall (Swords CC)
5 David Robinson (CRNS)
6 Paul Woods (Carlow CC)
7 Noel O’Dwyer (Comeragh CC)
8 Robert Merrick (Bandon CC)

Women's race
1 Fiona Guihen (DID Electrical)
2 Ciara Kinch (Orwell Wheelers)
3 Sarah Piner (DID Electrical)
4 Rachel Kaye-Mellor (Orwell Wheelers CC)
5 Julie White (North Tipp Wheelers)

Unplaced Junior
1 Naoise Sheridan (Orwell Wheelers)