Today was a relatively flat stage on the ras but was to be treated with fear as a similar stage two years ago split the race to bits, so I went against my normal pre race routine and warmed up. The bunch was a lot smaller this morning and lads were worried about going south on the first KOH and missing the time limit. I tried to sneak into the first move of the day but simply did not have the legs to make it across. I woke up with a head cold yesterday that had not affected me on the bike but it was a bit worse today and I was feeling not quite 100%
Fortunatley for the mear mortals in the bunch the first climb was tackled easily with the Sparta team riding on the front. The second climb was a different affair as it got lined out half way up it, about a kilometer from the top it was splitting in front of me but there was nothing I could do about it. I had being chatting to Sam Bennett earlier and he said he was feeling rubbish and had gone backwards on the climb but near the top he obviously found his legs as he sped across the gap I actually looked back to see had he got a tow off a car but no he hadn't he is just a talented fecker(i hate those lads!!!) Going over the top we were only a small bit off the back and got on by doing a few turns. Typically after getting back on it stalled and we could have rode back on at 20mph!!!
The next part of the stage was very handy as there was a number of teams riding on the front and we were into a headwind for a bit so I was actually riding in the small ring trying to spare the legs. Coming into Mallow we were flying but it was easy enough sitting in the wheels, it would line out in the crosswinds ocassionally but never bad enough to split it. After Mallow we turned left and a few miles later we hung a right from there on the racing was really on as we knew there was one third cat left and a few other small climbs as the road was constantly up and down we knew that we would have a cross wind for the last 15k or so. I knew myself the climb out of Donnerail was a dirty little one but thankfully it was took handy enough as the teams riding on the front were allowing the breakaways to fry. Thomas Lavery was obviously feeling fresh as he took off with another lad. Good to see lads having a go the odds are against them but nothing ventured nothing gained.
Onto the last climb in kildorrey and it was starting to get very grippy. Over the top there was a smash and unfortunetley Conor Dunne our stage 1 winner was brought down. Unfortunatley for Conor he had to go to Mallow General this evening where they diagnosed a fracture to his arm so he is out.
Mick Fitz also punctured at this stage so that was him gone to add to his bad luck the wheel he got off neutral had a buckel and 25mm tyre so would not turn in his Cervelo S5 frame, thanks to Herbi Monks of Eurocycles for sorting him out as Paul was dealing with Conor.
The run into Mitchelstown was very very grim it was constantly lined out in the right hand gutter, I was starting to swing in a major way and was counting down the kilometer markers. Into the last 2 k and I finally popped and swung out of the line, thankfully I was able to grab onto the last wheel in the bunch and finish in the same time as the bunch. 5 down 3 to go.