St 4 was always going to be a biggie and it certainly lived up to expectations. I started at the back due to chatting to Adam Armstrong on the line and not paying attention to everyone else getting ahead of us! I was in the back 20 starting the first climb and saw lots of lads getting shelled they were going to be in for a long day. The first climb was lively enough but not too bad, turning onto the main Castleisland road i was still lurking too close to the back it lined out but didn't split so I took this as my warning to get out of dodge and move up to the front. At this stage Mick Fitz punctured I thought we might never see him again as the bunch was not hanging around but he did a good ride to get back on. On the climb to Castleisland I was having a look at slipping into something I was on Rodger Akins wheel when he jumped to go across a gap I pretended to look the other direction so I could pretend I didn't see it go, to say he is trucking in an understatement. Near the top of the climb Conor got out and made the front group of 20 or so riders.
I thought that could be the move of the day, heading towards Killarney the gap was heading for 3 minutes I sent Mike Lucey back for bottles as Paul was soon going to be going up to Conor and we could have being stranded without bottles for the day. It was handy enough when Mike went back but two minutes later it lined out I felt really bad for him as we were going to be going through his home town and he could be out the back but its a team sport and we all have to give up a bit for each other. Fortunately he didn't go south and did a great job to get bottles to us. The linout around Killarney was immense we were constantly doing 55kph plus, going down the Muckross road county riders started to crack and leave the wheels go, a castlebar rider cracked in front of me I was on the ragged edge if this was a pro he would have put the hand back and gave me a handsling but i took liberty of taking a swing out of him (apologies for that) but in that situation its do or die and i would understand if someone did it to me.
Into the bottom of Ladys view it was simply madness in the bunch it was like we were riding into the finish of the world champs, its a technical road and we were trucking, the cars behind the break had being pulled out as the gap was tumbling. I felt okish once we started climbing proper but that didn't last long, the first 40 or so riders rode away as I was dropped in a group of about 15. Going over the top of Molls Gap we were in the cars only about 20 seconds down on the back of the bunch I was confident we would get back on on the descent to Kenmare. We rode the descent full gas but unfortunately the cars had being stopped at the top of Molls, they overtook us on the descent and we were gaining but unfortunately the commissare called a barrage and the cars were pulled so our chances of getting back on plummeted, after Kenmare on the way to the second cat climb the cars again over took us and we came close but never made it. A number of riders joined us from behind so we had a group of 25 or so and that was our tour group set up for the day. On the second cat we could see the front group but there was no way back, Con Collis decided to attack us (gained 4 min at the finish I hope the sore legs are worth it!!!). Onto the Healy Pass the tempo was a bit too rapid at the start and a few F*&k's were thrown into a few riders and it slowed down a bit. One rider persisted in acting the &^(%£ and kept turning the screw a bit too much he got a bollicking off a number of riders but kept ignoring it even when his own teammate said it to him. His team has yellow tomorrow so I hope he is up to the task of defending the jersey and wont regret not listening to the more experienced riders today. Personally I hope he goes south early.
Over the top of the healy pass we saw the aftermath of a big crash as is pretty standard on that descent. We then cruised in the last 20k as best we could despite my new favourite rider riding a bit too fast all the time; why not loose 15 min instead of 12???
We were taking bets coming in the road about how much time we could loose, I guessed 15min Joe Fenlon guessed 17-18 but Andrew Meehan was the winner by guessing 12-13.
That was not the drama finished for the day, dinner at the hotel was a disgrace, we were waiting more than an hour for our main course. It got so bad some teams got up and left without eating and went into town. One manager went into the kitchen to give the chef a piece of his mind, he got a round of applause when he came out. The wexford team had left and there dinners were left on there table so we robbed them so in the end we had two dinners but both were tiny. We were there for two hours in total to get our three courses, we left just before nine and the British team still had not got there starter.....so much for marginal gains!
23 riders were eliminated from the race today, you would feel sorry for them to have put so much into it especially those that missed the limit by only a couple of minutes but the limit is the limit riders have got tossed out of the tour of being less than a minute outside of the limit. Hopefully the riders will take motivation from it and come back better prepared next year