Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Ras stg3

Day 4 kicked off with a 6k climb after 6k so plenty of riders were warming up before the stage as it would be a long day if you went south that early. As we rolled out of Nenagh something strange happened we were not reaching for the 11 sprocket straight away it was very steady and controlled. I was badly positioned as normally when its lined out I can catch a lift to the front but today it was very easy so hard to move up as the world and its mother was ahead of me. As we started the climb it was still relatively ok but the screw was turned more and more as we wet further up the climb. Into the last 2k or so I could see it splitting about 20 riders ahead of me but the gap to the first 50 or so was not huge. Over the top we were properly lined out and a few hard turns were done on the descent and we got back on quickly enough. As we got back on Conor broke a spoke and had to get a wheel change. Mick and myself set up camp on the back of the group to get him back up once he got back on through the cars. At this stage the group had basically stopped racing as 3 riders had gone clear I said to Fraiser Duncan that I hate this part as the riders who didnt train as hard as us(and the sprinters) over the winter are now going to get back on and sure enough many of them did.
Martin had had about his 50th mechanical of the last few days and was fighting a loosing battle to get back on and would spend the day with the gruppetto. The racing was very handy at this stage as we were into a headwind and sitting on the wheels it was nice and easy. Just before Caherconlish I went back for bottles and had just deposited the last one to Conor when it appeared that a hand grenade went off in the bunch. Peter Hawkins had a dream start to his day by wearing the yellow jersey but now he was on the tarmac. There was a touch of wheels and he was the first one down and the chain reaction in the bunch saw over 20 riders hit the deck. It happened on a small descent so we were flying, I was really lucky to avoid it as it was happening just in front of me but I managed to take evasvive action, others such as Timmy Barry and Olan Barrett were not as lucky as they had simply no where to go. Cycling is a cruel sport for the likes of Peter to go from the yellow jersey to the ambulance but also for the likes of Timmy who has being doing 18 hour weeks consistently and then to see the chances of a good gc wiped out like that.
After the crash there was only a group of 40 of us left at the head of the race but the shout quickly went out that the yellow jersey was down so one of the unwritten rules of cycling was put into place and a stall was called. As a result of this the gap to the leading 3 riders went out to over 6 minutes. Through Adare a number of teams started to ride on the front and the gap started to come down rapidly enough. There was a lot of tension in the bunch after the previous crash it was like we were going to hit the last 3km as riders kept racing to the front. It got a little bit lined out in the left hand gutter and next thing there was another crash there was a traffic island in the middle of the road but there was another traffic island on the left for a cycle lane and a few riders milled into that. Arron Buggle got a bad slap he finished the stage despite have a nasty cut on his chin.
Once we swung off the main road we were onto the back roads again and hit the 1st third cat climb of the day, this was handy enough as it was into a headwind and there was a couple of teams riding on the front. Over the top I checked in with Conor to make sure he didnt need anything he was looking for a gel but of course I had none left Joe Fenlon was riding beside us and kindly obliged. I was chatting to Sean Lacey and asked him about the last climb he said he has rode those roads in training and didnt even know the climb so it couldn't be much. I relaxed a bit and was riding near the back when we hit the climb, next thing all hell broke loose and riders were blowing up left right and center, riders who had being chasing all day were sitting up and some riders just cracked I litterlay had to shove a few out of the way and make a big effort with Thomas Martin, Ryan Sherlock and a few others to hang onto the back of the bunch. Unfortunately this was all in vain as all the riders who were dropped got back on but better to be safe than sorry! Into Listowel the speed was ramped up I was just content to sit at the back and stay out of trouble I was delighted to hear that Carrick On Suir man and honoury club member Sam Bennett won the stage, its great to see that three young Irish riders in Conor, Peter and Sam have dominated the headlines so far, long may it continue

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