Laois cycling club has been very busy over the last few weeks none more so than Angelo O’Connor who had the task of organising the Portlaoise Criterium in association with Laois Sports Partnership.
Held on Tuesday 21st June the races were held in an incessant downpour however this did not dampen the spirits of the cyclist or the large crowd of supporters who turned out to watch the racing around the streets of Portlaoise.
The first race on the cards was the A4 category and wearing the Laois colours were Donie Walsh and Keith Lambourne. The wet conditions meant cornering was very hazardous on the tight streets. An early break of four riders including Donie Walsh, Dubliner Murt Rice and two cyclists from Naas Cycling Club managed to pull out a large gap over the rest of the field.
A win for either of the Naas pair looked the more likely outcome as the race entered the final laps however with two laps to go the powerful Rice attacked and only Donie Walsh could go with him and they were quickly out of sight of the Naas pair. Rice got to the crucial final corner in the lead and held on to win from Ballinakillman Donie Walsh in second place.
The main race of the night attracted a field from all parts of the country and Laois had Phil Maher lining out in a very competitive race which despite the conditions was very fast from the start. The high pace meant the field was strung out early and no breaks would get away. The inform Davy Walsh from Slaney Cycling Club was responsible for most of the pacemaking and he proved strongest in the field to win from Brendan Whelan Stagg Lucan CC in second and Stewart Cox Lakeside Wheelers Mullingar in third place.
Rounds six and seven of the Midland Interclub League were held recently. Round 6 was a 40km time trial held in Birr in perfect conditions. Eoin Whelan was the top Laois cyclist beaten into second place overall by just one second. Other big gainers of M.I.L. points were Phil Maher and Angelo O’Connor who have now moved into contention for overall honours. Round 7 was road race held in Mount Temple, Co Westmeath.
With overall leader Eoin Whelan unable to line out for this one the aim of the Laois lads was to limit the damage of the other overall contenders in Eoin’s absence. With Donie Walsh and Angelo O’Connor among a first group on the road of 13 riders the Laois pair maintained a high pace throughout and the group containing
Eoin’s nearest challengers never caught this bunch and so missed the chance to close the gap on Eoin’s lead. A late breakaway attempt by Donie Walsh was closed down by the strong Shannonside CC contingent in the final kilometer and in the sprint for the line Angelo O’Connor got up to take sixth place.
Also showing a return to form recently for Laois Cycling Club is Eamon Lennon who backed up some good racing lately with a seventh place finish in the Donamon Grand Prix in Co Roscommon on Sunday last. Eamon was prominent in the peleton throughout the race and in the bunch sprint for the line Eamon was just edged out of the prizes. This was the closest a Laois cyclist has come to picking up some ranking points this year but with a few showing some good form it is surely only a matter of time.