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*Imogen Cotter. Photograph: Bryan Keane/INPHO

RUAN’s Imogen Cotter is the new Irish women’s elite road race champion.

At the end of a remarkable 92.9km race, Imogen prevailed. Only the best riders were left peddling entering the final twenty kilometres and it was the Clare women that took the spoils in the Senior Women’s Road Race National Championships in Coolbeg, Rathnew, Co Wicklow, on Saturday.

Based in Belgium with the Keukens Redant Cycling Team, Cotter outsprinted Megan Armitage (Team Rupelcleaning – Champion Lubricants) and Linda Kelly (Barrow Wheelers) to take the national title by a clear margin even though the medal winners arrived at the line in a three-rider group.

All three of the medallists came late to cycling. Imogen moved to Belgium in late 2018 in a bid to become a professional cyclist having began track cycling a year earlier. As a distance-runner in her teens, she medalled at All-Ireland cross-country, 3,000m and 5,000m.

Speaking at the finish line, the UL graduate declared, “It feels like a dream, it really feels like a dream”. She added, “I’ve said that about a million times since I have crossed the line, but I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it. I’m just so happy, I really wanted this so badly.

“I had a bad year with racing and it’s only the last six weeks or eight weeks that it’s picked up for me and I was, I was just coming into this just focused, so focused on it. I just wanted it so badly”.

Her perseverance at the finish and the legs to survive saw the twenty eight year old collect a coveted national title. “I just went for it, and I was thinking, in that moment where I was sprinting, I was just telling myself how much I wanted it, and I got it.”

This success comes a month after Imogen was called up to the Irish cycling team for Rás na mBan. It also caps off a positive day for the village of Ruan with their flagship hurling team overcoming Corofin to qualify for the semi-finals of the Clare intermediate hurling championship for the first time since 2012.

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