The Tipperary Iverk Produce team that is going to tackle this years An Post Ras is a mixed bag of youth and promise to old fellas who perhaps should know a bit better (that’s me). The aim of the club originally was to have five club riders making up the team but when only five riders stuck there hand up last winter to do the ras the odds against this happening increased as the real world had a habit of getting in the way of riding the ras. Andrew Aherne and John O’Shea could not combine the demands of work and the training required to ride a good ras so both pulled themselves out of the team. We were then forced to go into the “transfer market” we quickly got Irish International Conor Dunne signed up soon after followed Irish under 23 champion Philip Lavery. Philip then unfortunately had to pull out as he had a clash of races in France. We then discussed riding the ras with only 4 riders unless a top quality rider became available and upon hearing that Mick Fitzgerald was available we had him signed up within 30 minutes.
Conor Dunne will hold our general classification hopes as he is a full time rider based in Belgium for the past 2 seasons riding for an Elite/U23 Amateur team called 'Vl Technics Abutriek'. Conor is 21 and has previously rode the ras on the Irish team in 2011, he is just back from a stage race in Italy so hopefully his form is good. Conor grew up in England so in his own words he unfortunately has a posh voice but we will knock that out of him over the week. He has always been patriotic and proud of his Irish roots, his granny was from Charlestown in Mayo and he still has family over there, his grandad grew up in the Dublin area but moved to Wembley in London just before his dad was born. Conor started cycling as a young fella and started racing at 16 and immediately caught the bug. He raced a lot in Belgium as a junior and knew he wanted to give it a good shot over here. He seems to be progressing well in Belgium at the moment as he is on a good team that rides many 2.2 and 1.2 races he will surely be attracting the attention of An Post soon.
Mike Lucey is riding his second ras for the club and his third in total, he is 27 years of age and is from Killarney so will surely be motivated as we race through his home town, he may be less motivated by the thoughts of Molls Gap and the Healey pass later in the stage but as a sprinter that’s understandable. Mike started racing as a 13 year old on mountain bikes will Killarney cycling club and switched to the road when he was 15 two years later he was crowned national junior champion. Obviously life then got in the way or college and student bars did and Mike disappeared from the scene for a few years but he didn’t completely waste his time as he is now working as a Quality Assurance specialist for the Astellas Pharmaceutical Company. He will be cheered on from the side lines by his girlfriend Cindy.
Mick Fitzgerald is from Cobh in Co Cork and is a former member of Carrick Wheelers he currently rides for Fermoy CC but we are delighted to welcome the 35 year old back. This will be Micks 9th ras he started out as a junior with Midelton Wheelers then took a “break” for 8 years and came back with Ballymore before changing to Carrick Wheelers the Edge team and now to Fermoy. Mick has being one of the strongest riders in the domestic peleton over the last 5+years and is a great Ras rider frequently getting into breaks and getting a bit of TV time for his teams. Mick works as a maintenance technician in Cork Plastics and has two kids and a girlfriend to keep him busy when he is not training and racing
Martin Mizgajski adds a bit of international flair to our team as recently documented on stickybottle http://www.stickybottle.com/latest-news/i-drove-to-my-new-life-in-ireland-in-a-500cc-trabant-had-e800-to-my-name-and-no-english/. Martin is in his second year with the club and is riding his second ras, Martin had a quieter start to the season than he normally has but is coming into form just at the right time as his 5th place in the Shay Elliot demonstrates. Martin is one of the best climbers in the country he found the speed of the ras peleton on the flat a shock last year but has adapted his training to become a more all-round rider and could well prove to be a surprise package in this year’s race. Martin works as a fitness instructor in a local hotel and will be supported by his wife and his daughter Zara
For me like Mick Fitz this will be my 9th Ras, I remember riding my first ras with Paul Griffen and Kieran McMahon on the team and I think Paul was doing his 9th and Kieran his 10th ras at the time, I remember thinking how in god’s name do you keep going for so many of them it amazing the way they creep up. For me the Ras is the reason I race; Sunday races don’t motivate me, the Ras and the Ras Mumhan are the only races I get a kick out of (I also getting a kicking in them) and are the reason I keep coming back, I love the Ras I can also hate it at times but its mostly a love affair. I spend my days working as a Fund Accountant and Brid my poor wife has to put up with my Ras addiction.
As always there is a team behind the team and without them we would all be at home. Paul Lonergan will be our manager for the week, Paul is the main man behind Carrick Wheelers and has being club secretary for over 25 years. This will be Pauls 22 Ras as manager he has managed the greats such as Bobby Power, Robert Power, Ciaran Power, Larry Power (not one of them related) Brian Keneally, Stephen Maher and Sam Bennett amongst many many others to stage wins, classification wins and team prizes. It must be a come down to have to manage us!!!
Tommy Mcgowan will be looking after the bikes for the week. Tommy is a native of Mullingar where he rode with the local club for a number of years but upon moving to the big smoke to go to college in DCU he joined Ravens. Tommy rode 3 ras’s as a rider and this one will be his third as a mechanic. I have not being on a Ras with Tommy but reports are that the bikes look better than new every morning. During the day Tommy works as a computer programmer for the Central Bank so sorting out a bottom bracket is obviously not a challenge for him.
Theo English is the man responsible for getting the legs looking like new every morning. Theo has being a member of the club now with a number of years and as well as being a massuse he is also a mechanic/panel beater and is the best man in the locality to look after my wreck of a car handily enough he is also good with wrecks of legs. Theo is heading into his 4th ras and has also worked on the Irish team for the junior tour.
Of course the team would not function without our sponsors; primarily Iverk Produce that are based in Piltown Co Kilkenny. Iverk are one of the biggest employers locally and the chances are if you pick up a bit of veg in Aldi it has come from Iverk, without them there would simply be no ras for us and the club as a whole would suffer greatly. We are also supported on the Ras by O Mahony Cycles in Dungarvan. Tony has being a great supporter of the club for years and hopefully the mechanical gods will be on our side so we won’t have to using the vast amount of spares he has supplied us with. Ryan Motor Power in Clonmel have also being very generous to supply us with a van for the week and Auto Power in Carrick on Suir have being as supportive as always with the car. Wish us luck out there.