Stage 4 & 5 Race Report by Monica Marconi
Day 3 was a split stage: an individual TT in the morning and a 40km criterium at Ballyalla at 5 in the afternoon.
Individual TTs are a great way for redeeming yourself if your skills at positioning yourself in the pack are poor. First of all you ride on your own; you don’t need to worry too much about which way the wind is blowing because there’s no place you can take shelter and you don;t worry about taking wheels as you’re not allowed to draft. Obvioulsy you need to keep the focus, which you would think shouldn’t really be a problem for an 8 Km effort.
The 8 km course ran right past the house where we were staying, so some of us were toying with the idea of riding out to the start line as a warm up but with the weather turning wet (again) after a brief respite this morning from the torrential rain yesterday, we opted for a lift to the start line and Pa gracefully obliged (again).
I battled for a few minutes with a super aero helmet that I got a lend of as i couldn;t get my vision through the lenses I lined up ready for my number to be called. We were off at 1 minute intervals in reverse GC order with the first rider off at 10am. The course was mainly flat except for a ramp to the flyover on the way out and the corresponding descent on the way in.
The efforts were between 12 and 14 minutes long with Sinnead Oakes and Rachel posting the better times in the team. After th TT we had most of the morning and early afternoon off so Sinnead Oakes and I decided that having lived on ceral bars, pasta and porrdoge for the last three days it was now high time to have a proper meal. On Cathal’s sound advise we gorged ourselves on a devine pasta dish with baked salmon as a side dish. I felt rather porkey on the way back to the house but still felt well entitled to all that carbs and proteins in view of the next challange of the day: the criterium.
On the way to town we took a slight detour as we drove the course to re-acquant ourselves with the effort that was waiting for us and somehow we decided from the safety of the car, that those two drags over the bridge didn;t look all that much after all.
The thing with criterium is that positioning is paramount: it’s safer and easier to be towards the front or ideally in the belly of the bunch. When you sit at the back you’re on a constant catch up exercise in particular as you end up having to – slow down and accelerate after every corner and that takes a toll on your resources. We were delighted to have the Nenagh Club supporters cheering us on every corner of the course.
Unfortunately Sinead had a mishap with another rider’s boot at the start of the crit which led to a bad start and I eventually cracked and could power no more with the main bunch being now a very distant memory. In the end it came to a bunch sprint but a crash a few km from the finish line split the bunch into smaller groups; the remaining riders were able to ride or walk around the spill; Rachel made it through the finish line in the main bunch whilst Sinnead who has been one of the main casualties in the crash, still powered through the finish line in great spirit but much reduced resources.
The atmosphere at the crit was great with the locals and club supporters turning up to cheer on the riders and most importantly it was a lovely dry, sunny evening. There is now only one more stage to go tomorrow with some more rain on its way
Sunday is the final day of the race so just get yereselves across the finish line!!
Best of luck from all in the club