The lovely weather this evening brought a very large crowd to our latest summer league race. This race turned out to be one of the closest races we have had to date. The first 3 groups stayed away from the scratch up until the final 200m of the ramp where they were to be cruelly denied the win.
There were 4 bunches on the road with handicaps at 0, 5, 9 and 11. Typically, a 2 minute gap between the last two bunches would mean both bunches would merge soon after the roundabout. However, those in the 2nd last bunch had other ideas. The gap between bunches 2 and 3 also took a fair amount of time to close. The standard is getting pretty high.
The scratch bunch consisted of a large number of Mego and Nenagh CC riders with 2 from Newcastle West and a Limerick rider as well. This bunch worked well together but the speed was never quite fast enough to make large inroads into the bunch ahead. The site of the Mego team at the start had scared a lot of scratch bunch regulars into the 3rd bunch. This resulted in that group working very well together with a large number of cyclists rolling through.
At the roundabout the gaps were down to roughly 1 minute between each group. Each group pressed on hard into the wind looking to close the minute gap to the bunch ahead. The gap was closing way to slowly between the back two bunches. It was clear that this race was going to the wire. After the Yellowbridge rise, the 3 front bunches had merged into one super bunch, with 30 seconds of a gap to the scratch bunch.
At this stage, the scratch bunch rolled up their sleeves and starting putting in big digs at the front. Simon Ryan and Aaron O’Brien put in some strong turns. Coming into Birdhill, Paul Kennedy put in a big burst and took Dan Hogan with him as another lost the wheel. Shane and Simon managed to close the gap to the two boys. 15 seconds was the gap to the bunch coming into the ramp in Birdhill.
Simon Ryan took it upon himself to close down the bunch. He led the lads around the bend and onto the ramp and started reeling in the bunch. With 600m to go they started to overtake the back markers of the bunch. With 400m and with Simon still pushing the pace, they pushed past the middle of the bunch and were fast closing in on the cyclists who had already gone for it.
Daniel Yon Hin, was leading out the superbunch but with 200m to go Simon drew level. Still on Simon’s wheel were Shane Scully and Paul Kennedy and they were both eyeing up the final sprint. With 100m to go they both went for it and in what was a very close finish, it was Paul Kennedy that got up for the victory with Shane in 2nd and Simon in 3rd. First woman was Sinnead Oakes and first junior was Daniel Yon Hin.
The superbunch thought they were battling for the win up the ramp and were too busy marking each other to notice the scratch group sneaking up on the outside. If they had worked together they would have made it. It was still a great effort, especially considering the handicaps weren’t quite as large as usual. The average pace this evening was 42.9km/hr.
Thanks to our marshals: Gary Scully, John Gleeson, Mark Dempsey, Will Rymer
Next up: Nenagh Summer League next Thursday; also Limerick Summer league on Tuesdays
Next Race: there are 2 races on Sunday – Deenside cup, Kilkenny, and Newcastle West
Video of the Finish