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Women cyclists in Irish national road race told to pull over and let men past

Winner says small women’s bunch meant that a 17km gap at the start was not enough

Riders taking part in the Irish national women's road race were told to pull aside to allow the men’s race to pass this weekend. According to the organisers, the women were riding "too slowly" and were asked to pull in to avoid a clash between the two races.

Race director Derek Webb told Independent.ie: "It's the rules of Cycling Ireland and it's always the way it's done, the slowest race is pulled over. You can't ask the faster race, who are there to race, to slow down. You don't do that."

The women had been given “a 17km head-start” and organisers had expected they would have finished by the point at which the commissaires asked them to pull over.

Webb added: "I have a responsibility to the riders but I'm not responsible for the riders, for their actions. And they were just racing too slow and the average speed was well below what was expected of them.”

The winner of the women’s race, Lydia Boylan, said: "Unfortunately, I think it was always going to be a likely scenario, on the circuit that they chose for the race.

"Having such a big men's bunch and conversely such a small women's bunch, I think they probably over-estimated the speed of the women's group and thought that it wouldn't catch."

Eve McCrystal, who was runner-up in 2016, said: "The point in the race we were stopped was kind of paralysing. If we were allowed to keep cycling it could have changed the whole dynamic of the race."

Boyland, however, said she didn’t think it was the kind of race where the temporary stop would have had much of an impact. "I think that I'd be a lot more angry had it been a bit more of an attacking race and there were groups all over the road and stopping it meant groups came back together."

The Women's Commission for Cycling in Ireland said it would be contacting Cycling Ireland to prevent such an incident from happening again.

Cycling Ireland said it was treating the matter "very seriously".

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