The final stage was obviously enough the final chance to pull a result from the weekend I really wanted to get a result to justify the club sending us to the race and for my own sake to have something on the score board before heading into the ras as chances are slightly more limited there!
For once we had nice weather, we rode in from the B&B and noted that the road was in bits with a couple of km to go. The finish today was at the top of a 300meter big ring climb. The course also had another couple of long drags before a fast flat run into the finish. I had a good chat with Mick Butler from DMG on the start line where he was laughing at the fact that I was being chased down every time I moved despit the fact I was a minute and a half down he on the other hand had got into the break on the previous two days
Attacks as always were on the menu from the gun I got stuck into a few but as Mick predicted there was no getting out; coming into the town at the end of the first lap on the section of road that I had noted earlier was in bits the predictable happened and I hit one of the numerous pot holes and got a rear wheel puncture. I was in the top 20 when this happened and we were trucking at the time normally when some one punctures the normal practice is to stick an arm in the air to notify the riders behind and to try to get out of there way asap so you don't get milled by some one. I had a tub on the rear and went to throw the arm in the air but the road surface was so bad it was impossible to control the bike despite the fact I was using tubs. Fortunately no one milled into me and I got a change from neutral, it wasn't the quickest one every but its hard for the lads in neutral as the wheels are not set up for the bikes they are dealing with.
I got going again but was out the back of the cavalcade, Gerry our DS for the weekend did a good job of having a sticky accelerator in getting me back on, it does not look great to be buried up the back of a team car but its only restoring you to the position you were in previously and its still an effort. Hanging off a car is something different some lads do it but in my book its not on.
Fortunately I got back in to the bunch to be greeted by the news that a break of 5 was up the road. I felt fairly rubbish after getting back on and thought that the effort had taken a good bit out of me as well as getting stuck in on the first lap. Going up the climb to the finish at the end of the second lap I felt like I was stuck to the road and eventually copped that the rear break was rubbing so I had to stop again to centre the wheel. Once I got going again I instantly felt better strangely enough!
I spent the next lap sitting at the very back of the bunch gambling that the break would come back and I would have a crack at the finish. I spent the time chatting to Mark Kiernan of Kilcullen, giving him delay birthday wishes (44;over the hill) and putting the world to right in general. At the same time I was switched off at the back of the bunch the break obliged me by getting caught. Onto the main road for the last time I hitched a lift from one of the Phoenix riders to the front of the bunch I had planned on baking everything for the gallop but as I got there I just had a feeling that something would stick and I gave it a crack, next thing I knew I was gone on my own. I plugged away on my own for a bit as there was a brief stall behind. I must have offended Dylan O'Brien in a previous life as for about the 5th time this weekend he came flying out of the bunch and up to me, we swapped a couple of turn for me to see two more riders coming across, I had to do a double take as I realised that it was Dylans father John that was steaming across he had Mick Butler sitting on his wheel. John to be fair did a huge turn, Mick was sitting on he is a fair rider so he didn't get a couple of "motivational words" as he does not have form for being a scrubber. Unfortunately we were brought back but now I was committed to getting out instead of waiting for the gallop, Cian Dwyer of the Munster team attacked and I went with him we got a nice gap again and Michael Millar of Phoenix and Mick Butler again appeared, Mick rode this time as he had since discovered that Denis Dunworth had being caught. We did a few turn but a few riders came across and the power went out of the group so it was time to go again with Mick and Brian Hart of Limerick but we never pulled out a biog enough gap and were caught heading into the last 2km. My legs were screaming at this stage but stayed in the top 5 principally to stay safe, into the town and the chicane I was about 8th on Brian Cantys wheel but Brian must have lost his nerve a bit from hitting the deck yesterday and lost the wheel there was a gap of 5 or 6 lenghts to the first riders so that was my hope of getting up gone (and the fact my legs were on fire) I crawled my way up to the line to finish 20th on the stage. I felt sorry for the yellow jersey but ultimately the strongest rider in the race won the race, the yellow jersey was forced to chase early on during the race when he had team mates in the bunch, the Blarney lads rode really well yesterday and paid the price today a though way to loose it but its a though sport.
Eoin Green benefited from the splits in the bunch to move up from 11th overall to 9th, Niall Og Dunne did very well to finish in the bunch for a 1st year junior who weighs a max of 6stone! Eoin Dunne was unlucky in the A4 race, riding his first stage race since the junior tour in 1992 his legs had got better over the last couple of days and had decided to have a go at the finish, he had good legs and was perfectly positioned but got taken out by a couple of riders switching and ended up with a few cuts, broken spokes and a cracked helmet. Many thanks to Gerry and Niall for helping out and Karen for getting our good sides in the photos!