Lucy Benezet Minns to build on strong world championships performance in Rás na mBan

Selected for the Irish team for the event, she is just 17 years of age

When Ireland’s top women’s race gets under way in Kilkenny this afternoon, one of those who will be watched with interest is Lucy Benezet Minns. Selected for the Irish team for the event, she is just 17 years of age and will be one of the youngest in the race.

Being picked for the Ireland squad at such an age might seem unusual, but Benezet Minns showed her ability on several occasions this year.

The most pronounced example was in August when she was fourth in the junior time trial at the world road race championships in Glasgow, a result that surprised many, including herself.

She was just 36 seconds away from taking the win, and only seven away from the bronze medal. That was a staggering result against competitors a year or more older than her, particularly as it was her first international championships.


“I was super happy with my time trial,” Benezet Minns said this week. “It definitely wasn’t the kind of result I was expecting but I’m glad to have been able to put on a good show, especially given how hard the road race was.

“I think my result surprised a few other people too but I’ve had a lot of support with my time trialling this year so that’s been super helpful. I’m happy to have done a ride I could be proud of on a tough course.”

Having finished 32nd in the earlier road race, that time trial showing meant she went away from her first world championships in a very positive frame of mind.

“It’s definitely given me a boost of confidence knowing I can put out a performance like that when everything comes together on a big stage,” she said.

Benezet Minns was born in Dublin to a Canadian father and French mother. She lives in London and recently declared for Ireland. She dominated the junior national road race at the end of June, attacking right at the start and beating the next rider by six-and-a-half minutes. She also won the time trial by almost three minutes.

“I started riding when I was 12 but didn’t really get serious about it until I was an under 16,” she said. “I started track and then starting racing at Herne Hill velodrome in south London. The community there is super supportive and it’s been lovely to have the opportunity to ride there over the years.”

Things have moved quickly since she declared for Ireland, with those two national titles, her first-ever world championship campaign in August, that fourth place in the time trial there and now her participation in a green jersey at Rás na mBan.

She will line out this afternoon alongside the others on the team, namely professional rider Mia Griffin, sisters Caoimhe and Aoife O’Brien plus Erin Creighton. Results aside, that will stand to her, as will five days of competition with a strong international field.

“Being on the team for the Ras is a huge honour,” she said. “It’s a race I’ve wanted to do all year and it’s really special to be able to ride for Ireland. I’m mostly looking forward to gathering experience this week and learning from the older riders on the team.”

What’s clear is that Benezet Minns has bundles of talent and, if she continues to develop as she is, could go a long way in the sport.

“I’ve progressed fairly well this season. I think the nature of junior racing suits me more than youth, so I’ve really benefited from the increased training,” she said. “I’ve had some amazing race opportunities in Europe with my trade team which has helped me a lot in developing my fitness but also obviously getting the race days in and gaining experience.”

Longer term she’s got some targets in mind. She doesn’t mention a professional career but if those goals go to plan, that could well be on the cards down the line.

“I’d really like to put in a good performance at some of the hillier Nations Cups next year as they’re courses that suit me more,” she said. “Obviously the worlds is a big target for next year too, both the road race and the time trial.

“Long term I just hope to keep enjoying it! I’ve been really lucky to have some amazing support the last few years and I’m looking forward to stepping up to senior and seeing what I can do there.”

Rás na mBan 2023

Wednesday, Stage 1: Kilkenny-Callan (74.2km)

Thursday, Stage 2: Kilkenny-The Rower (100.9km)

Friday, Stage 3: Portlaoise-Mountrath (104.4km)

Saturday, Stage 4: Tramoe-Tramore (102.7km)

Sunday, Stage 5: Kilkenny Castle TT (2.5km) and stage 6: Kilkenny Castle Criterium (1hr + 5 laps).

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes is a contributor to The Irish Times writing about cycling