Mark Dowling dominates in epic Laragh Classic

DID Dunboyne’s Mark Dowling finished the season with a commanding victory in Sunday’s Friends First Laragh Classic, earning himself a Leinster Championships Gold Medal in a sodden County Wicklow.

Dowling, who is now aiming for a valuable race in Taiwan, was clear of the main pack in a five-man breakaway when attacking up the 24km circuit’s toughest climb on lap two of four and a half.

Leading Irish junior rider Michael O’Loughlin, subsequently selected for the World Championships in the US later this month, was the only rider able to stay with Dowling, but even he was distanced a lap later.

Dowling won by over seven minutes and said: “Second time up the climb I just put in a hard dig and took Michael O’Loughlin with me. We tipped away for a lap together as the group broke up behind and on the second-last climb I went away on my own – I was just trying to keep warm.

Mark Dowling grits his teeth on the way to Friends First Laragh Classic glory

Mark Dowling grits his teeth on the way to Friends First Laragh Classic glory

“It was absolutely savage; pouring rain, cold – it was only 11C average for the day. I’m only back from Lanzarote last Friday so I was well-wrapped up with the proper gear on and I was okay.

“I know the course, I train around these roads and I’m happy to get the win.”

Sponsors Friends First have committed to sponsoring the race for 2016, with a view to further establishing it as an end-of-season championship, a move Dowling backed up.

He said: “It’s a good race. It’s savage every year. This is the second year the top riders have been allowed into it and I know it’s been hard to get the riders because it’s the end of the season, but I think they should keep putting it on this time of year.

“It gives the people who want to keep going something to look forward to.”

Speaking about the future, he added: “I’m racing the Vuelta Galicia next week in Spain and then I will spend the next five weeks training for the Taiwan KOM at the end of October.

“It’s a 105km climb, 3,500m of altitude, with €30,000 in prize money. I went last year, but didn’t have the gears. I never take a break in the winter.”

O’Loughlin, riding for, got a deserved second and Team Aquablue’s Sean McKenna was third.

The race incorporated the Leinster Championships for the first time and, with Dowling taking Gold, Dublin-based McKenna was awarded Silver and UCD CC’s Ian Richardson bronze.

For a full gallery of images taken by Karen Edwards at the 2015 Friends First Laragh Classic, please click here.

Friends First Laragh Classic Results
1 Mark Dowling DID Dunboyne
2 Michael O’Loughlin NRPT (jnr)
3 Sean McKenna Team Aquablue
4 Ian Richardson UCD CC
5 Cian Delaney Stamullen
6 Jake Gray NRPT (jnr)
7 Adam Stenson NRPT (jnr)
8 Robin Kelly Waterford RC
9 Ian Cassidy Fixx RouleursA2
10 Dermot Kavanagh Bray Wheelers A2
ParcelZone KOM Mark Dowling

Martin Vereker Memorial A3 Results
1 Conn McDunphy Lucan CRC (jnr)
2 Stephen Murphy iTap
3 Ian Murphy Bray Wheelers
4 Jamie Busher Orwell Wheelers
5 James McFadden Dublin Uni
6 Bernard English Orwell Wheelers
7 Phil O’Flaherty Swords CC
8 James Quinn St. Tiernan’s CC
9 Ciarán Handley Swords CC
10 Brian McNally Orwell Wheelers
Unplaced Jnrs Sean Moore Barrow, Fionn Jordan Slaney CC, Cian Sutcliffe Lucan CRC
ParcelZone KOM Conn McDunphy
Special Sprint donated by Jurys Inns Stephen Murphy iTap

Laragh Classic A4 Results
1 Damien Donlon Swords CC
2 Noel Kelly UCD CC
3 Stephen Rowan Orwell Wheelers
4 Eoin Ahern UCC
5 Anthony Dunne Donadea
6 Colm Dillon Comeragh
7 Ken O’Neill Orwell Wheelers
8 Mark O’Duffy Killarney
9 Neil Wilkinson VCB
10 John O’Regan U/A
ParcelZone KOM Damien Donlon Swords CC

Leinster Champions: A1 Mark Dowling, A2 Ian Cassidy, A3 Conn McDunphy, Junior Sean Moore

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