Majella, Sinnead, Sinead and I just finished flying the Nenagh CC flag at our first two-day stage race. On Saturday morning, we drove to Broadford, Co. Limerick and readied ourselves for a weekend full of unknowns. With a flat route in the morning, a short individual TT in the afternoon and a hilly course the following day, there was something on offer for everyone… but we had no idea how we’d measure up against the competition.
The first stage was flat and fast, consisting of four 14km laps. We had raced this course several weeks ago so we knew about the sharps turns awaiting us. That race had been very uneventful, with the whole group basically escorting each other around. Yesterday was a different story, however. There were breakaways a-plenty as riders tried to open up a gap between themselves and the 35-strong peloton. Sinnead and I managed to get into an early break but we were soon sucked back into the bunch. Majella and Sinead were cruising at this point but, unfortunately, Majella’s race was hindered by a crash. She came off the bike (but is fine, don’t worry) after someone in front of her had a mechanical and braked suddenly. She fought like crazy to regain contact with the group but had to settle for a solo spin the rest of the route. Sinnead got into several more breakaways and eventually found herself alone out front as others dropped off the pace. She finished impressively by claiming the stage win by a twenty-plus second margin. As for Sinead and I, we happily finished with the bunch.
After a lovely lunch and brief drive up the main hill on Sunday’s route, we relocated to Dromcolliher to prepare for the 7.6km individual time trial. We each set off a minute apart just after four o’clock, seeking to follow Sinnead’s advice to “pant the whole way and throw up at the finish”. The route was “flat-ish” with an uphill finish and a strong head/cross-wind. We were only too happy to dismount at the end and catch our breaths (no one threw up). Sinnead’s speedy time of 13:01 was fourth for the stage, while Majella (15:35), Sinead (14:17) and I (13:43) were very happy with our performances as well.
The general classification placings for the day were:
Sinnead – 2nd (6 seconds off 1st)
Rachel – 15th
Sinead – 28th
Majella – 34th
Awaking on Sunday morning, it’s an understatement to say that the weather wasn’t what we had hoped for. Still, we were all in the same boat and, fortunately, finished the day’s hilly 60km course (three 20km laps) safely. Each lap had a long climb about half way through, which had a deceptive flat section in the middle that immediately led into another steep climb. Majella and Sinead lost touch with the main bunch on the first ascent and powered around the rest of the course working as a pair. Sinnead and I stayed with the first group throughout, with Sinnead’s six-second deficit on the race leader difficult to overcome. Every time Sinnead made a move off the front (which she is known to do from time to time), her main competitor pounced on her wheel. After the final climb and long descent, we were both in position for the sprint finish. Sinnead took 2nd in the stage, finishing a brilliant 2nd overall. I didn’t place but finished 10th overall on GC. Sinead finished 26th and Majella finished 32nd.
Overall, we were definitely satisfied with our weekend’s racing. We wore our Nenagh CC jerseys proudly and worked our tails off. We also learned a lot about what it takes to do three stages in two days. Now, it’s time to rest and recover… and prepare for Thursday’s Summer League and Sunday’s Visit Nenagh Classic.