The Nationals are always a difficult race, no matter what. It’s one of the biggest goals of my season. The added pressure of being defending champion was bigger than I let on, I had the confidence of knowing that I could win it, but the nerves still hit me on race morning and it’s the only race that does this to me.
In the build up to the race I could barely eat and throughout the whole race my stomach felt uncomfortable, but I had to trust my legs. My race tactics were simple; stay near the front especially for the narrow climbing section of the course and especially as we had typical Irish rain for the entire race. The riders knew it would be the climbing section of the course where the damage would be done, so there wasn’t much attacking anywhere else. While the three laps of the climb did split it up a bit the group was always too big (14) to be a working group, with many riders just ‘sitting in’ and going with each move. The result of this meant that it was going to be a nervous finish to the racefor me as in the group were a lot of riders I didn’t know.
Eve McCrystal and Fiona Meade had been the most attacking of the race and Lauren Creamer was climbing very well, so I knew the ones I definitely had to watch coming to the uphill sprint. Luckily for me the pace was kept high in the last few kilometres and I was 2nd wheel, exactly where I wanted to be. I knew with the uphill sprint I would rather lead it out so I came to front with about 500 metres to go, a small decent, over a bridge and then the road started going up. I kicked and gave everything I had with 150 metres to go. Eve was right on my hip. I had to keep pushing all the way to the finish. Thankfully I hit the finish line first, again! I couldn’t believe it! So unbelievably happy to retain the title and again in front of all my incredibly supportive family.