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Clare cyclist braced for massive test of endurance in Spain

CLARE’S Imogen Cotter will be completing arguably her greatest test of endurance this Saturday when the talented cyclists completed a 340km cycle in Spain, writes Ivan Smyth.

Cotter, from Ruan, will aim to complete the Pirinexus Challenge as she will start her cycle in Girona with the route taking her through the Pyrenees.

This is a unique event in the cycling calendar with participants given 18 hours to complete the cycle as they start at dawn and have until midnight to negotiate this difficult course.

The Clare cyclist is under no illusions as to the size of the task she faces.

“I have never done a challenge like this. I will be travelling on road, gravel paths and even up mountains. It is a huge challenge. I’m tripling the distance that I usually race. I have to be self sufficient on the day so if I get a puncture, I have to deal with that myself.”

Cotter enters this race in good form. She finished seventh overall at the Rás na mBan while also capturing the red jersey at the AG Tour de la Semois in Belgium. The 28 year old received this jersey as she finished second on mountain classification behind the race leader.

“Last year I did this race (AG Tour de la Semois) and I didn’t finish so I know how tough it is. I knew I had good energy in my legs after the Rás. The long climb in Belgium suited me and as
I’m in a club team, nobody expected me to be as strong. I caught a few people by surprise. It (the red jersey) was a huge confidence boost.”

This weekend Cotter will be riding with Movistar, one of the most renowned cycling teams in the world. The Ruan woman admits it is a huge honour to represent Movistar on Saturday.

“I cycle with a club team so the way I would describe it is that its like someone who plays for Lifford getting called up to play for Liverpool.

“They have a Dutch girl (Annemiek van Vleuten) who won gold in the Olympics in the Time Trial. They have some of the best cyclists in the world.

“I have done some e-cycling with Movistar, and I have said to myself before wouldn’t it be amazing to race with them on the road? It’s exciting to get that opportunity so I’m hoping to put in a big performance and finish this race.”

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