Stage 3 Race Report by Rachel Clancy
Stage three has come and gone and we are still proudly waving the Nenagh CC flag. With Majella’s collarbone confirmed as broken, we were down to four riders when we assembled in Scarriff at noon. Although there were three categorized climbs written in the programme, we counted seven on the elevation profile. The hilly route combined with the torrential downpours added to the nerves for sure. Still, we knew we were better prepared for bad weather than most other riders, owing to our Irish citizenship. Comparisons to Malin-to-Mizen day three were being made over breakfast…
The neutralized zone was whittled down to 700m and we were straight into a 4km climb. The bunch was blown to smithereens from the outset. As the cavalcade passed, descending became even more challenging. Thoughts of skidding on a wet bend and meeting a bumper added to our cautious approach. Eventually myself, Sinnead and Monica ended up in a big bunch together, with Sinead in a smaller group slightly behind. The course was up and down all day but the pace (aside from the first climb) was very manageable. For me, the main efforts came on the descents and flats. I left a huge gap on the downhills because I’m not the most confident, particularly in slick conditions. Still, I was sure I could regain contact with a burst out of the saddle, which is exactly what happened each time. Monica and Sinnead descended much more successfully but we all ended up together anyway. Sinead stayed safe and upright in her group as well.
After the gale-force winds and big distance yesterday, today’s 80km was almost pleasant. Although we all worked hard, we really only entered the “red zone” once, when trying to stay with the main bunch during the first ascent. From then on, we were all confident of finishing with the group we had settled into. When I saw the sign saying 11km to Scarriff, I recognized the road we were on and began to count down the kilometres. There were a few ill-positioned manholes on the way but we stayed out of harm’s way. The finish line was up a short, steep climb into the centre of Scarriff but we were pretty much swept up with the bunch. Sinead rolled in a few minutes later. Mission accomplished: no nasty spills on the wet roads; Nenagh CC survives another day.
Tomorrow brings an individual time trial and criterium… and lots of supporters. With the work week done, we are looking forward to greeting some happy faces at team headquarters in Barefield. After all, we have stockpiles of food to get rid of before Sunday’s departure. : )