Kenneth Kennedy has peaked at just the right time and taken the top prize in today’s exciting Winter Warrior’s race. This is the biggest win of Kenneth’s career and he was understandably very emotional on the winners podium. Kenneth blubbered incoherently “I always dreamt of becoming the Winter Warrior champion. It’s truly unbelievable. To see my name on the trophy beside club winter legends like Kevin Sherlock (4 times champion), King fraud Butler and the Stallion….wow, I am lost for words.”
35 cyclists made it to the start line out in Toomevara. This is a great turn out at this time of year, so thanks to everyone for making the effort. Even the Great Donkey Dunne made it to the start line (I think he was lost)! There was a lot of nervous energy in the air as we were about to start. Nobody wanted to be the person that got dropped early and had to cycle home by themselves. There was plenty of bike bling on show, with carbon the wheel of choice for many – this all added to the nerves of those that have never experienced as big a race as this!
We split the group into 4 bunches. First on the road were the juniors, then the girls, then the first men’s group and then the second men’s (race focused) group. The intervals were 13 – 7 – 5 – 0. Each group were advised not to overdo it on the way out to Roscrea as the road back to Nenagh would be tough due to the headwind. Some groups took this advice way too seriously and within the first 10 miles of the 30 mile race the scratch group had eaten up the 5 minute handicap on the second men’s bunch.
Video: Groups coming together
At the turn around in Roscrea the womens and junior groups were still out ahead but the small gap was closing quickly. The handicaps probably needed to be a lot bigger but each group could probably have done much more on the road before being caught. This is a race – when we say take it easy, we mean knock it back from 110% to just 100% effort!!
On the hill just outside of Roscrea, on the way back to Nenagh, the groups all came back together. It was now a free for all. The increased pace caused by the intensity of the scratch bunch put a lot of people out the back door of the bunch. The scratch bunch lost a few of their strong lads too with Shane Scully (derailleur hanger snapping) and Brian O’Neill (puncture) both ending up in the broom wagon cursing their luck.
As the miles ticked by, the bunch got smaller and smaller. The elastic was snapping on quite a few as we neared Toomevara. The head wind meant that breaking away from the bunch was tough, but the lads still tried. It took until Toomevara before the first successful break was made, with Con Kennedy and Eoin O’Donoghue getting themselves up the road. It wasn’t long before the they were joined by Eoin Woolley, Benny Delaney and Kenneth Kennedy. Last up to the break away were Donkey and Matty. There was a lot of talent in this break away and they soon pulled out a 15 second gap.
Strong pulling in the chase group by Cathal, Stallion, Stephen, Rachel, Sinnéad etc. meant that the breakaway never got too far away. Few in the break away were willing to bury themselves to open up a large gap, and there was a lot of looking over the shoulder going on. As the bunch closed the gap further, the lads in the break started to work a little better together (but still not well). There was still only about 10 seconds between the two bunches going over the fly over with 3 miles to go to the finish.
Matty Kennedy put in a good breakaway attempt at this stage but it would be very hard to stay away into a head wind with quite a few strong lads in the breakaway looking pretty fresh. With 1 mile to go, Matty was caught and Kenneth Kennedy, Eoin O’Donoghue made a final break for it. Benny Delaney was able to close the gap to the two lads and now it was a battle between the 3 for the podium places. Coming in sight of the line, it became a straight battle between Kenneth and Benny for the win, with Kenneth just coming out on top on this occasion. The chase and remnants of the break away crossed the line 10 seconds later.
Sinnead Oakes was first female home. Conor Brennan was first junior home with Seán O’Neill just getting distanced before the final sprint – that was a great performance from the two lads! Stephen Hegarty was first man home from the second men’s group. Great stuff out of everyone today. It’s good to have days on the bike like this every now and then. It gives you a good idea of where you are with your training and lets you know just how much more training needs to be done before the first race of the season in February.
Marshals – the club would like to thank all our helpers on the road today – Kevin and Bertie Sherlock in the cars, Ronan O’Driscoll helping the juniors, and John Kennedy on camera duty. Fair play to ye!
More photos from the race will be online soon.
Time to celebrate! Drinks tonight in Rocky’s from 9:00 till late. Please try to make it if you can.
Prize presentation: from todays race will take place later in Rockys – gives Kenny time to compose himself and prepare a speech
Next up: there will be plenty of long distance cycles on over the Christmas. Check our club Facebook page regularly for updates. Make sure to set up your turbo in your house too and use it whenever you can’t get out on the road. Don’t let all the hard work you have put in over the last three months go to waste!!
Next race: we will be repeating this race late in January and one more time before the start of the racing season. We will tweak a few things for the next one e.g. handicaps. Keep up the training till then.