We have reached the half way mark of the rás and we are all still in the race. Today was touch and go at times with another big crash, this time involving Kenneth, and Mike was struggling a little with the injuries suffered the day before. Our support team had their work cut out to get everyone back cycling but they performed wonders and we live to fight another day. Today was a better day for the two Shane’s too as they finished a little better than they did on the first 3 stages. Perhaps we had some divine inspiration.
Here’s how the day went…..
‘I feel like a million dollars….zimbabwean dollars’ was the general feeling of the group upon waking up this morning. This race is starting to take its toll on the body. With messers in the team like Kenneth and Michéal, spirits never get too down. Michéal reckons he has the finest arse in Kerry. The crack is mighty in Kerry. Judge for yourselves.
The race today was from Dingle to Sneem, a distance of 160km with plenty of climbs. The talk all last night was about this one big climb which Kenneth was calling the Block of Sheen. Where did you hear that name from Kenneth? ‘Sure thats what Michéal calls it’. The actual name of the climb is Bealach Oisín. There is barely a brain between the two of them. Bealach Oisín was a cat 1 climb and also a brute.
Matty and Dan Hogan were out on the town last night. They bumped into the Star Wars end of shoot party in Dingle. The two lads fitted in well with the array of alien extras on display. There was no sleep in for the two boys in the morning and they were up and at it at 8 bells, working as hard as ever.
The weather today was fantastic again. The good news for us was that there would be a headwind for the first 30km of today’s race. This would slow down the bunch a touch and give us a chance to hang in there till the race settled a little later in the race. At 11:00 the race started from Dingle.
10km out the road Mike was in trouble. He was feeling poor from the injuries sustained the day before and was finding it hard to get into his rhythm.When you are first out the back you are in danger of missing the cut as the grupetto won’t have formed. Mike would have his work cut out.
After 40km the 4 lads were still in the main bunch. A crash in Milltown saw Michéal lose touch with the bunch. This was annoying for him as he was going well and he was desperate to be in the bunch passing through Killorglin. Huge crowds were out in Killorglin and all across Kerry today, cheering on the Nenagh team. We feel like superstars at times out there.
Kenneth also went out the back just before Killorglin. This time with a puncture. He worked hard to get back to the main bunch but couldn’t quite make it back. This left the two Shanes still in the bunch and going well. On the way over to Bealach Oisín, wheels were dropped about 30 riders up from the back. This was a disaster for Shane Scully as he was losing touch with the group. Two NFTO riders broke from the back and Shane got on their wheel and they set off after the main bunch.
Shane was nicely placed in the bunch coming into the climb. There were a number of other small groups formed behind due to the tough pace. Shane caught and passed some of these groups but it was looking to difficult to catch the bunch before the climb.
Back behind, Michéal, Kenneth and Mike had made it into the grupetto. As today’s stage was quite long, the cut off time was large enough so it soon became obvious that the lads were out of danger. All they had to do was ride steady in the group and make it to Sneem in time. Which they did easily. That didn’t stop Kenneth from crashing at high speed on a descent and going head over heels into the ditch. He was held up for quite a while but was able to continue and even chase down the grupetto up ahead.
Shane Scully managed to catch and pass Shane O’Neill on the climb. A dangerous descent saw lots of cyclists come off their bikes. This hampered Shane O’Neill’s chase effort. Up ahead Shane managed to bridge the gap to the back part of the main bunch which had split in two on the climb. Shane O’Neill got in with a group behind Shane. The two boys were able to take it easy enough to Sneem. They were in good company and it was good to see them having a better day of it.
That is one more day down. We are at the half way point and haven’t lost anyone yet. Things are going well but we have a lot of tough days still to come. Tomorrow is a hard stage from Sneem to Clonakilty with some big climbs on route. This is stage 5 and it just happens that it was the stage 5 stage to Clonakilty 2 years ago that Shane got times out. Will that happen again? We will find out tomorrow.