The sunny south east lived up to its name for The Carrick Cup on St Patrick’s day. While the race in Dunboyne was cancelled due to snow we had sunshine and the rain obliged by staying put until the prize presentation was complete. It was a cold day a shower of rain would have frozen everyone to death but we would have little to complain about when we compare it to what the riders in Milan San Remo had to endure. A record field of 279 riders lined out for the three races reflecting the high esteem the St Patrick Day races in Carrick on Suir are held in, the days racing was kindly sponsored by Thomson Funeral Directors.
I missed the previous weeks racing in Newbridge due to a chest infection so my early season goals of getting a result were downgraded to getting around and not making a show of myself. There was a good sized A1/A2 field of almost 60 riders which would be considered big for a Munster race, we had three 20 mile laps ahead of us the principle difficulty’s on the mainly flat circuit is the climb up to Glenbower a few miles into the lap and the climb up to the finish on St John’s. The wind can play a big factor in these climbs if there is a tailwind we will fly up the climbs and the race will split to bits but with a headwind it’s easier for guys to stay in the wheels.
As we rolled out the road I knew we would have a headwind on the climb so I gambled that we would stay together and I assumed a position near the back of the bunch, I said I would not stick my nose in the wind for the first lap and give myself a chance to ride myself in. For once I was able to stick to my plan; well my legs were all too willing to cooperate as they were not feeling super after a week of an enforced lay off. Attacks were coming and going but nothing was sticking into the head and cross wind sections, when we turned to head to Carrick on the Clonmel road we were greeted with a tailwind and a super-fast road surface so we flew into Carrick which ensured that the bunch was all together hitting the climb up to the finish line.
Up over the finish line we went with nothing major happening, then a few miles out the road another attack went and came back, the riders involved in that move stayed on the left hand side of the road while a few moved around them on the right, then a few more followed the guys on the right and then another few went after them. At this stage there were 15 guys 100 meters ahead of the bunch we were only crawling along and so were the 15 guys who were ahead, Mick Lucey from Iverk was there so I was not bothered about moving, a few more guys jumped across and next thing there was more guys ahead than behind. We said there too big a group they won’t get organised and ride but obviously they did as 2 miles later the team cars were overtaking us and disappearing up the road.
We decided we better start riding everyone had someone in the front group but seen as we were now effectively out the back of the race we said we would start riding for training. About 5 miles later we were within 30 seconds of the group as they were obviously messing around but then our group all stopped riding!
Going through the finish line for the last lap we were given a time check of 40 seconds which to me sounded a bit short from what we could see on the road, a good few lads rode on the road up towards the climb where we were starting to see the group in front. Then over the top of the climb we were getting really close to the group in front, the service cars were pulled out and then our group did it again and stopped riding. A small group got away from our group that had Martin Mizgayski in it, this suited me perfectly as Iverk Produce Carrick Wheelers now had two riders in the front group and Paidi O’ Brien and Robin Kelly two of the favourites if it came down to a sprint were still in the back group with me. The momentum had now really gone out of our group we were riding at less than training speed when Paidi and Robin started jumping to try and cross the gap, everyone was waiting for this and the group was quickly onto them and we would slow to a crawl before they tried again.
Despite the fact that we were messing around and not riding at all we were actually catching the main bunch at this stage, and in ones and two’s nearly all of the group who a lap earlier had resigned themselves to riding for training were back in the hunt for the win. Going through Kilsheelan a Carrick Wheelers riders meeting was called at the back of the bunch, Mike said he was feeling ok and would give the sprint a go, Martin said he felt “so so” and would help Mike I was not feeling great and said that I would start riding on the front of the bunch in a few miles as there was 4 riders about 30 seconds up the road to ensure it all came back together for a sprint and do our bit to help Mike.
The tailwind that was blowing us towards Carrick helped in the mopping up of the four riders that were dangling off the front of the bunch. It was now my time to give Mike a hand and move him up as we were hitting town but unfortunately my legs had other ideas they were done for the day all I could do was hope that he would not have to burn any matches getting into a good position. Mike managed to get himself well positioned going into the last 2km.
As the group hit the climb to the finish my race was over all I could do was ride up at my own pace, Martin managed to give Mike a great lead out he managed to ride most of the bunch off his wheel Mike hung onto him but unfortunately Paidi and Simon Ryan had too much of a kick and came around Mike for first and second Mike did well to finish 3rd and Martin hung on for 8th. Third and eight is not bad and is a good sign for the upcoming races.
|Martin leading out Mike....bunch exploding behind|
|"The green machine" Eoin Green|
|The "boss" Paul Lonergan on the right of photo, without him there would be no racing...thanks Paul|