The May Bank holiday weekend is normally spent riding the Tour of Ulster in preperation for the Ras but this year we were a bit slow off the mark and missed the entry, we were on the waiting list and then told that two riders could get in but by that stage we reverted to plan b which was riding the corkman for me and Mike Lucey and Martin Mizgajski riding the Frank O Rourke in Wexford and doing a couple of good training days around it.
I had rode the first ever Corkman and had the privilge of winning the first ever stage many moons agoso it was kind of refreshing to be heading back. Iverk Produce Carrick Wheelers had Ray Cullen, Eoin Green and Niall Og Dunne in the A2/A3 race and Eoin Dunne and Niall Dunne in the A4 race. Michael O Loughlian, Arron Kearney and Ruair Dunne were flying the club colours in the underage races. Gerry Hawkins was DS for the senior riders and Martin O Loughlian was looking after the underage.
The first stage was 3 laps of a 20 mile circuit, with 3 small climbs on the lap, the road surface out to the climb would test all bolts on your bike and the fillings in your teeth, the climbs came in quick sucession then we had a quick descent to new market and a quick run back into Kanturk. The climbs were unfortunatley into a stong head wind which would have the effect of killing the racing a bit. I tried to get out a few times on the first lap, Ray Cullen was also being active but nothing was sticking. Coming towards the end of the lap I drifted back in the bunch to find Eoin to give him "motivational word" to get up to the front and get stuck in as we (i.e. me) had decided in our chat before hand that we had to be agressive and have a man in every move. Eoin as it turns out was only after getting back on from a puncture. Just coming into Kanturk Ray got away with 3 others, coming up to the line they were on the verge of being brought back but the bunch stalled a bit and they went away again I plonked myself on the front row of the bunch to keep the speed under control in the hope that the gap would grow, Eoin appeared at the front and followed one lad who jumped out and had a free ride to the front. I kept riding slowely on the front and the gap continued to grow as a few more hopped accross, no Munster riders or Nicolas Roche riders so it was looking good for us. Eventually a group of 15 pulled away before the bunch woke up a bit and started riding again.
I couldnt get over how slow it was in the bunch we spent the first two climbs riding at a snails pace, we got a time check of 1min 40 it lit up a bit on the last climb and on the way in from New Market the chase was on with the Munster riders finally relaising they had to do a bit Barry Meade was hugely impressive for planet tri as he was doing massive turns. I was sitting in the top 15 staying out of trouble, coming into Kanturk I was in the top five to make sure I stayed away from the wannabe Cav's, the break was staying away but the gap was tumbling fast I ended up 5th in the bunch gallop more so by following wheels than sprinting. Eoin finish 8th and gained 36 seconds over the pre race favourites, woulod it be enough to help him migate and losses in the TT?
Niall Dunne deserves a special word of praise for even starting the stage as he fractured his wrist during the week in a crash off the bike he sensibly decided 1 stage was enough for his weekend
I hate time trials; the fact I am next to useless at them probably plays a bit part in this. If I had a fancy TT rig I might like them a small bit more but its hard to justify the outlay when there is so few of them every year. I rode a local TT on Thursday night which showed me that I had not warmed up enough before starting, so I made sure to rectify this. We were on the bikes an hour and 20 min before our start, it would not only have the benefit of warming up correctly but were also helping to rack up miles with the Ras in mind. As we rode on the course against the way the riders were coming we said we would have a tailwind for the TT. An hour and a half later we were proved wrong as we had a cross/head wind; other wise I would definately have bet Barry Meade!!! I barely scraped over 40kph for an 11:55, Eoin did 11:40 that left him in the 10th overall.
The stage was run over the old Banteer circuit which must be the flattest course in the country, the back road with the recession has become one of the roughest roads in the country as well, this weekend is certainly proving to be a good test of shorts. I tried to slip away with Cian Dwyer after a couple of miles but were not left go, turn the head for the main road there was a crash at the very front of the bunch I was about 10th in line and did well to avoid the spill Brian Canty and Barry Meade got a nice slap, turns out Dylan Foley went into the corner a bit too fast slapped on the breaks and the boys milled into him, I saw the Ras flash before my eyes and counted myself lucky to get away with it.
Onto the last lap the gap was dwindling and looked like the group would come back but it never did as riders ran out of legs I was really annoyed as I hoped it would come back to have a crack at the sprint but unfortunatley the group stayed away by 10 seconds. I got 5th again in the gallop without sprinting at 100% as its hard to go flat out when you know its not for win. Hopefully stage 4 will see the dice roll my way, I finished the day off by doing an extra 20k with the ras in mind.