I sharing a room with the stage winner and yellow jersey of the ras tonight, no I haven't sneaked into some pro's room its my teammate Conor Dunne. I still cant get my head around it, its unreal really great news as i write this he has just said "fuck" shook his head and smiled this one will take a while to sink in.
Ok back to before all of this happened.
We arrived in the Green Isle last night to get the show on the road, I said to the lads I always hate this part as you pull into the car park see all the pros fancy team cars and bike's then you see the riders they all look 12 years of age and have 5% body fat, it could be a bit intimidating if you were so inclined!!! Some of the guests of the hotel provided a bit of entertainment when three women started fighting with each other then a classy gent decided to punch one of the them in the face, I didn't see it all but it ended up with one guy out cold on the road in front of the hotel. Turns out he was caught stealing money out of his nephews communion cards, it really is a classy joint.
The evening was spent getting a bite to eat and having a quick team meeting. we actually joked during the chat about how the pros view the county riders and how the county riders can start racing late in the stage for the county rider prize we also said how funny it would be if a county rider had the jersey and the pros expected his team to defend it........little did we know
As always there was a great atmosphere in Dunboye and we set off under bright sunshine. Timmy Barry Sam Bennett and myself bagged the dream spots behind the race directors car on the neutralised lap so we could stay out of trouble. Our neutralised section was extended as a rider had a mechanical before the flag was dropped so we crawled along waiting for him to get back on. Once the flag was dropped there was no more hanging around as we were up to over 50kph straight away. I was nicely positioned at the front but was not feeling great I didn't have the legs for the jumping around and quickly retreated back into the safety of the bunch. Our main aim for today was not to loose time or skin, but mostly not to loose skin. The first day can always be a crashfest as guys are fresh and eager to get stuck in. I think the fact that we were regularly touching 60kph on the flat kept the county riders from getting stuck in so it was a safe enough stage.
I took a gamble and retreated to the second half of the bunch as I felt it would be safer there and a bit easier there is always the risk of getting held up behind a crash but i was willing to take it. I moved up after 50k as the KOH was at 60k at this stage Conor was in an 18 rider move Rapha and Sigma Sport were riding on the front and it looked like the group would come back as we hit the KOH we were nearly on them. The KOH was harder than expected Stephen O Sullivan told me before the start that it was handy, I wouldn't have described it that way!! There was a great crowd on the climb which was great to see.
After the climb the race continued as normal i.e. 50-55kph all the time it took until about 100k had passed for the race to settle down a bit, we were still enjoying the sunshine I was starting to feel the heat a bit I always suffer on the first hot race day of the year. With the stage destined to last a little over two and a half hour I could have got away with two bottles but in the heat that didn't look likely but due to the speed of the bunch the prospect of going back for bottle did not seem appealing but fortunately Mick Fitz obliged and appeared with a bottle which was a life saver.
At this stage another break had gone and come back and a bit of calm descended on the bunch two of the Baku riders were riding on the front I decided to have a crack but I would say I hardly got my name on race radio before I got pulled back. I was getting twinges of cramp at this stage so had to use the head to ensure i got through it without going out the back door. At this stage Conor decided he was bored in the bunch and took off again. I was at the back and made my way back up the bunch when Sam told me that Conor was away. The lads had a minute with 10k to go, Stephen O Sullivan said they would stay away as the last 10k were relatively downhill. I was beginning to get a bit nervous at this stage while trying to figure out who he was away with. It was getting a small bit hairy in the bunch as there was a few lock up's Conor Murphy nearly dumped it on the tarmac at one stage.
I expected the bunch to go into gutter mode but it never happened there was a few attacks but no one team committed, the last 2k were very rapid but there was no bringing Conor back, fortunately he won the gallop and got the Yellow, Green, White and Blue jerseys (well he only actually got the yellow but that's the one that counts). Crossing the line I saw James Lawless watching and he said Conor had got it and I was truely trilled, its great to see a young Irish rider winning and especially one in a Carrick Iverk Produce jersey. Many thanks to everyone behind the scenes in the club and our sponsor Iverk Produce for helping to make this happen. Tomorrow should be fun!