It was another typical Irish weekend with sun, rain, hail stones, cold, warm, and windy weather. Judging from the club strava records, most of the cycling action took place away from Nenagh. It turned out to be another successful weekend for the club on the racing front with Daniel and Shane putting in some top performances. Plenty of training miles were logged too at home in Nenagh and by the shnakes down in Co. Kerry.
- Tuesday: final evening of the club TT league or Limerick Summer League. There is also a group that go out for a cycle at 6:30 I think. Ask on Viber for more details.
- Thursday: Nenagh Summer League at 7:00pm at Gooig.
- Saturday: normal club senior cycle resumes at 9:00pm at the hotel.
- Sunday: training at 8:00 from Tescos or racing at the Deenside Cup in Kilkenny or Newcastle West, Limerick.
Kerry Training Weekend: a group of 5 from the club went down to Kerry for a big weekend of cycling. They managed to fit in the Dingle Peninsula Cycling Challenge while they were down there. I am sure a few pints and some hangover mileage was done also.
Kanturk 3 Day: After an illness forced Denis Allen out of this race, it was left to Daniel Yon Hin to represent the club at the youth stage race in Kanturk. The quality of this event is always high so finishing high in the overall can be tough. However, Daniel was fresh from an excellent performance at Rás na nÓg so expectations were rightfully high.
In Daniels own words….
“there where 54 riders in my age group. The first stage was 32km long I finish well in the top group coming home 8th. Stage 2 was the time trial. The wind was very strong so it was always going to be a struggle; I could’ve done better. Stage 3 was 24km, I finish in the 2nd group just behind the leaders. My overall position was 17th“
Ballinrobe 3 Day
Nenagh CC had a team of 5 at this tough 3 day stage race. From the start of the year, this race was earmarked as an important date on the calendar. With the An Post Rás just 3 weeks away, the race would act as a barometer for whether our rás team would be ready for the rás. Therefore, the lads were all taking this one seriously with the aim of emptying the tank on each stage. The race itself turned out to be a brute so our team were well tested. There was good news and some bad news at the end of the race. Read about it below….
Stage 1: Over 100 cyclists took to the start line. While many of the top Irish riders went to the Tour of Ulster, there were still many top A1 riders at this race looking to fine tune their preparations before the rás. Our team certainly felt like we could be competitive and we were looking to get some sort of a result from the 3 days. The aim on the first day however was to lie low and save energy for days 2 and 3 where the courses would be hillier.
The stage 1 route was very flat and consisted of 2 laps. The bunch seemed very nervous at the start of the race and within the first km there was a bad crash at the back of the bunch. This crash saw Dan hit a motorbike and Kenneth losing contact with the bunch for a while. Kenneth was able to battle his way back into the bunch but unfortunately Dan wasn’t able to remount and catch the bunch in time. This would leave him with a 120km cycle to do solo (luckily he was able to team up with a puncture victim down the road and they both worked hard to the end).
The tight country roads didn’t help the nerves in the bunch. It took a while for things to settle and for everyone to relax. The reason for the relaxation was the sight of a break of 12 up the road. We would later find out that this bunch contained almost all of the pre-race favourites in it. Most of the top teams were represented except Nenagh CC! This was a bit of a disaster start but there was still 100km of cycling to go so no need to panic yet.
After 50km, the break’s lead had ballooned out to 3mins. The stage race was almost over for the lads before it started. Nenagh CC moved up to the front to start chasing. At first there was about 20 lads rolling through but as the kms ticked by the group got smaller and smaller. The gap had come down to 2:20 but at this stage it was just the 4 Nenagh CC lads and 1 or 2 others helping out.
Once we got back onto the main road and within 25km of the finish we pulled aside to let others do the rest. We were expecting the pace to ramp up as we got closer to the line but this just wasn’t happening and the time started to go out again to the break. At the 10km to go mark things were to get even worse when another break of 12 were allowed off the front. The main break stalled and we ended crawling over the line losing 4 mins and 1 min to the two breaks ahead. This stage couldn’t have gone any worse for us. Our aim was to work hard on every stage (which we did), but this was very much a day of riding like Freds.
Mike, Kenneth, Shane and Eoin Woolley all finished in the main bunch. An exhausted Dan Hogan finished his two up TT effort over a half hour later. Woolley’s performance on the 1st day was the only bright spot of a miserable day for the rás lads.
Stage 2: Once again the distance of this race was around 120km but at least there would be a few hills to slow down the bunch. The route was an out and back loop. We would cycle around the lake then turn and cycle back the way we came. The weather would be a big factor today with high winds and rain falling for most of the stage.
Aaron O’Brien from Mego was in Yellow so the whole Mego team were working hard to make sure nothing went away. Our team were tucked away safely in the bunch with the only hardship coming when the cross winds and wet descents came. At the 70km mark things were still altogether but the bunch seemed to be slowing. This suited Shane as he planned on attacking here. He threw in a good dig and took a number of riders with him.
Consistent attacking from Shane for the next few km saw a bunch of about 20 riders going clear and getting a small gap before the climb of Maam Trasna. On the climb, Shane and 4 others managed to put time into the 20 behind. They tore down the other side of the hill and eeked out a 20 second gap to the Yellow jersey group behind. The 5 lads worked very well together and saw the gap grow to 50 seconds with 10km to go.
Shane’s bunch managed to stay away and in the final sprint for the line Shane could only manage 4th place from the 5. While disappointed once again by his performance in the final sprint, it was good to be in the mix especially after the disaster the previous day. This put Shane into 19th place overall but still a massive 4 minutes off the podium.
Kenneth and Mike put in a very good performance on this stage too. They both came in with the main bunch which was well depleted by the end. This helped move the boys up to 39th (Mike) and 51st (Kenneth) on the same overall time. Eoin Woolley got distanced on the first climb of the day and came in with the grupetto. We lost Dan from the race on this stage. The tough effort of the previous day had sapped the energy from his legs for day 2 and he was forced to retire from the race.
The mood in the team was a lot better back in the team house. It was made even better by the roaring fire (made from foraged wood) and sausages Dan ‘Grylls’ Hogan had ready for us all at the end. Now that is what being a teammate is all about!!!
Stage 3: Nenagh CC were lucky to have Eoin O’Connell from Killarney CC staying with us for the weekend. Eoin is turning out to be one of Ireland’s strongest cyclists and he was doing very well in this race. He was in 4th place overall and had every chance of taking the yellow jersey on the last day. The final stage was another 120km hilly route. Shane and Eoin decided on a plan for the next day and would you believe it, it actually worked a treat.
The rain stayed away on the Monday morning but the winds were high and blustery. In this part of the country there are lots of exposed areas so crosswinds were going to be very damaging. Race organiser Padraig Marrey told Shane the exact spot the crosswinds would hit hard and to be ready for them. All was going fine for the first 40km of the race. After Westport and at the exact point Padraig had said, the crosswinds hit.
The Nenagh CC team weren’t ready for this level of mayhem. Within 1 mile the bunch had split into at least 4 different bunches with a break out front to make things even worse. Where were the Nenagh CC lads – 1st, 2nd and 3rd – from the back!! The pain that was endured for the next 20 minutes was excruciating but luckily for the lads all the bunches merged down the road once we finally turned into a head wind. Eoin Woolley wasn’t quite as lucky and he was left isolated to work through the winds by himself.
Now that the tough crosswind section was over, it was time to think about breaking away. The first of two hills would come at Leenane. Shane moved up to the front and Eoin followed. Near the top, it was Eoin that put in the first dig and Shane went with him. They worked hard but Daire Feeley in Yellow was on their wheel quickly. The two lads did succeed in splitting the bunch with only a small group getting away. We soon caught the breakaway from before the crosswind section.
After a short downhill they came to the foot of the only cat 1 climb of the race Ail Dubh. Shane was in a good position about 6 back from the front. Mike and Kenneth were once again racing well and they were safe in the bunch which was only a few seconds back. Eoin O’Connell opened a gap at the front on the climb and Shane jumped from the group behind onto Eoin’s wheel. Things were certainly going to plan as the lads crested the hill with a 10 second gap to the chasers and another 40 seconds to the remnants of the main bunch (it split to bits on the climb) containing Kenneth and Mike.
With 50km to go Shane and Eoin were out in front with a group of 12 chasing containing the Yellow jersey Daire Feeley and the rest of the top contenders for the overall title. Eoin O’Connell went for broke and hammered it for the next 10km, so much so that Shane couldn’t even take his turns up front. The gap grew to 50 seconds and Eoin was now in the virtual Yellow. Kenneth had managed to escape from the main bunch too and was now in the 3rd chase group behind.
As the kms ticked by, the gap between Eoin, Shane and the chasers kept growing. Eoin was relentless and even though Shane was able to work a little more he was still struggling to even hold the wheel of O’Connell. With 10km to go the gap was out to 3 mins. Crazy stuff and now there was the distinct possibility of Shane getting up for second overall. All he had to do was to hang on to the freight train that was O’Connell.
With 6km to go and a tail wind behind, Shane was struggling badly and hadn’t rolled over for a long while. Then he lost the wheel. There was no letting up from Eoin and he pushed on to record a fine victory on the stage and in the overall placings. Shane eased the pace to one he could manage for the last 6km. He lost 39 seconds to Eoin by the end but had succeeded in putting another 30 seconds into the group behind finishing 3:30 ahead of the chasers. If he could have stayed on Eoin’s wheel that would have gotten him 2nd overall but it wasn’t to be.
Meanwhile, back down the road, Kenneth was having his best day on the bike this year. He was in the 2nd break and working well with some top names. He finished exhausted a few minutes after Shane but this effort was enough to move him up into 33rd overall. Mike finished with the 10 riders left in the main bunch. He too gave it his all and was exhausted afterwards. Eoin lost a good bit of time today but kept going right to the end when a lot of others didn’t. He finished in 61st from over 100 that started on Saturday. There were a large number of DNFs today which goes to show how hard the stage was.
The effort today by Shane put him up to 4th overall. The efforts of Mike, Kenneth and Shane were also good enough for 4th in the team prize out of 16 teams. 4th was also the final position for Kenneth in the A2 overall placings. The effort put in by all the lads this weekend was huge. This is another step taken on our journey towards the ras. Unfortunately, Dan made the decision to opt out of selection for the rás. He has tried harder than most to get himself ready for the rás but felt he wouldn’t do himself justice there. We thank Dan and Gary for their efforts over the last few months to try to make the team. It just shows you how hard it is to get to that top standard. But remember lads, there is always next year!
Total Points Won: the club are aiming to win at least 100 points this year at races. After this weekend’s efforts, we have reached the half way mark of 50 points. With over half the season remaining we should be well capable of reaching the target