Monday, April 1, 2013

Ras Mumhan Stg 4

Stage 4 was run under balmy conditions of 4 degree's with weak sunshine on display strong wind and no rain!!! Today the plan was to try and get in the break of the day from the off it was clear Aqua Blue wanted a break to go so there would be some calm in the bunch. There was a strong headwind on the outward stretch of the 15 mile lap that we would do three laps of before hitting the finishing circuit, so it would not be as simple as falling off the front of the bunch to get away. My teammate Martin and I both had the same plan we covered all the moves heading out the road, I slipped away once with Mike Butler from DMG and once with Thomas Lavery from Comeragh but we didn't get the right combination and were brought back. Thomas eventually made the move but was unlucky to puncture out of it. Martin and I had slipped back a bit in the bunch when one move stuck so the two of us looked like lemons having missed the move. We were not kicking ourselves for long as it looked like slow torture out front in the strong wind.

The group hung out there for a lap or so and were brought back, it was slow into the headwind section and rapid heading back towards town with the tailwind. I basically took a lap out of the race sitting at the back of the bunch, its a bit of a gamble in case there is a split or a crash but its a chance to mentally switch off. i also did my good deed for the day by telling one of the UCD lads that his rear break was rubbing, racing is hard enough without that!

I moved back up on the last lap before we entered the finishing circuits, there was a lot of tension in the bunch heading towards Killorgain as everyone tried to be in the top 20 hitting the bend before the bridge into town, a crash was in the air but thankfully everyone stayed sensible and upright.

Aqua Blue were going a good job in controlling the bunch Robin Kelly, Keith Gator and John McCarty were doing a lot of riding while Timmy Barry, Olan Barrett and Sean Lacey were waiting in the wings, Joe Fenlon on the other hand was just willing the day to end! Damien Shaw was looking comfortable he was sticking his nose in the wind a little bit too often but the lads were doing a good job of guiding him.

Onto the finishing circuits the real racing was about to start, the first couple of laps were sedate enough. The Aqua lads who were riding one the big laps started to crack naturally enough the Dutch riders started to throw riders up the road, one of these moves stuck with 2nd,3rd and 4th on GC there with Timmy Barry babysitting them. This naturally enough was a serious problem for the yellow jersey, there was shades of last year when Ryan Sherlock missed 2nd place on GC going up the road.

Keith Gator was doing an epic ride by still chasing Olan and Sean were also getting stuck in, at first the gap hung around 20 second and looked to be under control but very quickly it blew out to 50 seconds. Shaw was loosing the yellow jersey as so many had done before on the finishing laps. The Dutch riders who were still in the bunch  were really starting to throw there weight around in an attempt to disrupt the chase, if a rider was riding on the front they would leave his wheel go so he would have to sit up and wait for his teammates to get back up to him.

A few of the Irish riders started to get involved in the chase, a couple of the cycleways lads got involved Con Collis and Mark Nugent both did big turns. I also did a couple as I didn't want to see the jersey going overseas especially the way the Dutch were conducting themselves. I was doing one turn into the bottom of the hill up to the finish line, I was on the right hand side of the road getting ready to cut the apex of the corner when one of the Dutch riders dived underneath me and basically went straight on trying to force me off the road onto the footpath. Leaving a wheel go is one thing but dangerous riding is another thing, everyone has to go to work in the morning.

What I didn't called the Dutchie does not bear repeating but if they were happy winning the race like that leave them off. Onto the last lap and it was obvious it was going to be touch and go, Timmy dropped out of the break to ride on the front of the bunch, I was about 20 back and riding towards the front of the bunch gave Shaw a shout to jump on my wheel to move up but he didn't budge he looked like a guy who was on his last legs or simply didn't realise he was loosing the race. I did one more turn and was drifting back down the bunch the Dutch yet again were trying to block the road Shaw was still about 20 back and was getting screamed at by Sean Lacey to move up. He eventually did and manged to hang onto the jersey by only 4 seconds. He certainly had his teammates worried, I am glad he won is as he was the strongest rider in the race and I would not like to have seen him loose it to the Dutchies especially the way they rode. Before people complain that the Irish were riding together all the Dutch were doing the same despite the colour of their jersey!!

That wrapped up Ras Mumhan for 2014, I had achieved my first objective of finishing as the last two editions I had ended up in the ambulance! I finished up in 31st nothing great but happy enough with how I was going. A big word of thanks to the organisers and all involved in the race, we basically had closed roads for the four days which was exceptional. Also a big thanks to our support crew of Theo and our DS Paul. Thanks to everyone for reading also, I hope to do the same during the Ras.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Ras Mumhan Stg 3

Today was one of those days that will live long in the memory and not for good reasons. The weather has being fairly brutal all year long but today took the biscuit. We were greeted in Waterville with rain howling wind and freezing temperatures. Most of the bunch lined up in rain capes with shallow section wheels as you could easily be blown away today with deep section rims.

We got drenched on the start line the majority of the riders were shivering waiting for the start, we were neutralised for the first 3km and once the flag was dropped the racing started in earnest with a few riders taking off straight away the bunch was in no mood to leave them go and the first line out of the day developed. I didn't have a great start as my legs were dead from the cold I passed my team make Mike Lucy who's breaks were rubbing....must love making things hard on himself!!! The first 10k the bunch kept the screw turned we hit a small climb and a few more riders left the bunch, I was about 20th over the climb and it was obvious they race was going to break apart very soon, a few riders were loosing there nerve on the descent and backing off in the corners but they had to be taken full speed to stay with the group. I had to go around a couple of riders and Eugene Moriarty and myself had to drill it to make sure we made the split. Straight away we started another climb, the second group were visible just behind us but majority of riders in the race with good legs had made the first group and it was game over for those behind.

About 40 riders were in the front group attacks were coming and going thick and fast, there was a number of serious guttering sessions until after Cahersiveen where it settled down a bit. Two riders had slipped away up the road Sean Lacey Paidi O Brien Ryan Mullen and a Dutch guy slipped out of the bunch in an attempt to get across it was not the wisest move in the world as we were into a headwind, I was on the small ring on a flat road riding hard and only doing 30kph that's how strong the wind was. We got brought back and the two guys out front were left off there were in for a hard slog. The group really slowed for a while especially on the next descent as the yellow jerseys team were riding on the front into the headwind. Lots of riders were complaining about the cold as they were frozen through. I had a winter base layer jersey gillet and rain cape and was still frozen. Other hard nuts like Keith Gator was riding in a pair of short and no over shoes!!!

We swung right passing by Waterville and headed in the direction of Casheriveen again and "enjoyed" a roaring tailwind I am sure some guys enjoyed it I spent the time hitting my leaver convinced I could not be in the 11 but I was and nearly getting spun out. We hit a left turn to head for Valentia and this is where our group exploded, I had relaxed a bit too much and was towards the back of the group I thought there was no need to panic as everyone who had survived the first two hours of racing surely had good legs and was well able to ride in the wind. This was not the case as guys started leaving wheels go, I skipped around a few but didn't have the legs to close the gap, I swung to the left hand side of the road to form another echelon in the hope we could make it back but it was no good the firepower was not there and we could only watch as the front group dragged themselves away from us.

We got organised and rode relatively ok I though there might be a small stall up front coming off the island and we might get back on through the cars but it was not to be. The next two hours were basically spent riding up and over at a steady pace, the rest of the time was spent trying to get food out of pockets as fingers were fairly useless with the cold at this stage. It wasn't the coldest day I have ever put down on the bike but it was certainly up there. The finish line was a welcome sight we had lost 16 min but no one really cared we just wanted to get out of wet gear, i took my gear bag into the lobby to get change, there were riders all over the place and very few looked in a good condition. As I said at the start it will live long in the memory.

Congrats to Paidi on grabbing the win and Damien Shaw on doing a great ride to get across to the break and put himself in yellow, also great to see a number of the Irish under 23 team up there in the mix. Congrats to everyone on finishing today, nearly 30 riders bailed today which speaks volumes for how hard the stage was. Hopefully tomorrow will be a more controlled affair, I will be looking for a day pass from the bunch hopefully I will be able to get one.