There were 36 cyclists at the latest round of our summer league. The weather was dry but cold and there was a strong wind blowing. Any time the winds are high, it makes for a tough cycle; this evening was no different. There were 3 groups on the road with a 5 minute and 2 minute handicap between both groups. 4 or 5 of the stronger scratch group cyclists were MIA, so the pace was always going to be a bit slower. This tempted a number of strong middle group cyclists to try their luck in the last bunch.
For those moving up, the start can be a big shock to the system as there is no waiting around. The scratch bunch sprint out of the blocks and get moving very quickly, especially when aided by a strong tail wind. A 3 minute handicap was enough to keep the middle bunch from being caught last week. Cutting the handicap to 2 minutes and taking some of their stronger cyclists meant that the two groups merged just after the half way mark. Reports from the middle group mentioned that this group didn’t work quite as cohesively as in previous weeks with lots of surging through causing problems with rolling over.
The 3 groups merged early. On the way back to Birdhill, the bunch was hit by a strong headwind. This made breaking away difficult. What made it worse was the 3 or 4 cyclists driving the pace at the front for absolutely no reason – everyone was caught and that is when the race begins. The only time you should be at the front is when you are breaking away. You are not going to ride a bunch off your wheel going into a head wind!
This high pace meant there were very few break away attempts. The only one of note coming at the usual Yellowbridge hill, but the two lads were reeled in eventually there too. If a break isn’t gone by the time the race hits the downhill at Kilmastulla then you can be pretty certain that it is going to be a sprint finish. The finish line today was 750m up the ramp in Birdhill. This is just enough of an incline to scare off big units like Keith Butler. It throws the advantage the way of the less rotund.
The pace was high coming into Birdhill, but as we approached the roundabout things starting slowing a lot. Nobody wanted to go to early on the hill, so everyone waited and waited. First to make a burst for glory was Dan Hogan. Dan had been cycling very well all day so when he opened a 25m gap things looked worrying for the rest. The bunch set off in pursuit, with Shane Scully, Paul Kennedy and Mike Browne shooting off the front. They passed Dan half way up the hill and battled each other to the line finishing in the same order.
1. Shane Scully
2. Paul Kennedy
3. Mike Browne
Thanks as always to our marshalls – Eddie O’Meara, Brian O’Neill and Stephen Hegarty.
Race 9 takes place next Thursday – so mark off that date in your calendar.
Racing with Nenagh CC: there are two races to choose from this weekend with some going to a race in Carlow on Saturday and a bigger crowd heading to the Deenside Cup in Kilkenny on Sunday. Pull on the club colours and go win yourself some points!!