Best Irish rider Eve McCrystal of the Garda Cycling club receives the Green jersey from Ciaran McKenna, President of Cycling Ireland PICTURE: LORRAINE O'SULLIVAN
Belle de Gast (WV Breda) of the Netherlands sprinted up the main street of Gowran to win the first stage of an Post Rás na mBan. De Gast led in a large group after 70km with Alice Barnes Team GB second and Typhaine Laurence Team Breizh Ladies grabbing the final podium spot.
The stage was run off at a hectic 41km/h pace and, despite incessant attacking throughout, a sprint finish would ultimately decide the stage. The final attacks from Mel Lowther of the Great Britain squad were snuffed out and it was de Gast who had the most strength on the final 300m rise to the finish.
Eve McCrystal of Garda CC, just back from the Paralympic World Championships the day before, was 12th in the dash for the line and is the leader of the Kilkenny County Council best Irish Rider Classification heading into Stage 2, which heads for Castlecomer today (Thursday).
Lydia Boylan, who rides with the Team WNT UCI registered team, was eighth, and is the best placed Irish rider ahead of stage two.
Belle de Gast (Team WV Breda) wins stage one of An Post Rás na mBan 2017 in Gowran. PICTURE: Lorraine O'Sullivan
De Gast leads overall and heads the NDC Points Classification courtesy of her stage victory while Laura Massey of the Isle of Man was first over Coppanagh Climb after 26.5kmh and is the leader of the Wicklow 200 Queen of the Mountains Classification.
Barnes, whose sister Hannah was a multi-stage winner of An Post Rás na mBan in 2012, has the consolation of leading the Women's Cycling Ireland Young Rider classification.