and then there were 3
Sorry about this latest blog post going up so late, I find it hard to look back on a day that was filled with much disappointment. It is way easier to post after a good day when everyone is happy out and the jokes are flying, but it is more important to post after brutal days to show that sport, just like life, has its ups and downs. At the moment we are very down having lost Mike Browne and Michéal O’Shea from the team but there are three still remaining so we must keep battling on.
Here’s how the day went…….
Since Kenneth Kennedy’s blasphemous photo in Dingle we have been beset by bad luck. Coincidence? I think not. Sure Kenneth himself was struck down the following day in a crash. This morning we were met by a plague of midgies at our hotel in Sneem. The hot weather, low winds and easy prey (weak cyclists) made for ideal hunting conditions.
After another large breakfast, we retreated to our apartments for an indoor warm-up. The bodies were a little bit worse for wear today but nobody was feeling awful. Before we knew it we were all lined up in Sneem waiting to go again. The aim today was to remain in the main bunch until the cat 1 climb of the Caha Pass. Once there it was a case of getting yourself as high up the bunch as possible before the splits came.
Unfortunately for Nenagh CC things started to unravel way before that. Within 500m of the start Shane was back in the cars as he was having trouble with his gears. He managed to sort this problem temporarily and got himself back into the bunch. Disaster struck at the 2km mark though when his chain snapped. The bunch sped off down the road while Shane had to wait for car no.36 to come up to give him out his spare bike (Gary’s bike). By the time all was sorted, Shane had lost a number of minutes on a fast moving bunch.
When you go out the back with a mechanical you are given leeway to use the cars to pace you back on, so Shane went off in chase. Shane had been feeling good this morning and was hoping for this to be his best day. It was a day that suited him on paper but things weren’t going to plan. This time 2 years ago, Shane exited the rás on stage 5 into Clonakilty after going out the back early. That time was due to fatigue. This time it was a mechanical issue but he was determined not to go out on this stage again. Not with his relatives watching once again in Clonakilty!
Further up the road Mike was feeling the pinch. He still hasn’t recovered from his bad crash on stage 3 and is finding it hard to generate the power needed to stay with the bunch. Out the back by yourself within the first 20km of a 148km stage is not the place to be. He was suffering and with marshals marking is every move, he was on his own.
Shane passed Mike and pressed on after the main bunch. At the foot of the Caha Pass climb, disaster struck Nenagh CC again. Shane could see Michéal O’Shea up the road with no bunch in sight. Michéal had a mechanical problem too which required help from neutral service. The marshal made it clear that he wasn’t happy with the level of assistance Nenagh CC were requiring so Shane pressed ahead with the plan to get to get up to the grupetto before sending the car back for Michéal.
Shane made contact with the back markers of the grupetto shortly after the descent into Glengarriff. This group caught another group after a few miles and that group contained Kenneth. There were around 14 in this bunch but that number swelled out to around 50 when another group containing Shane O’Neill was caught further up the road. The sole aim of this group was to make the time limit, which they would do, so the lads live to fight another day.
It was much different behind where Mike and Michéal were now in real danger of missing the time cut. After 100km, Mike decided to give up the battle and he dismounted and got into the broom wagon. His race was over but I am sure everyone will agree that he has performed heroically over the last few days especially since his crash.
Michéal was still cycling away but by his calculations he felt he was going to miss the timecut. Our team car had not yet got back to him and the marshal had told Michéal that his only options were to cycle by himself or get in a car. Michéal, being the popular guy that he is, had plenty of friends on the road. He is the king of Kerry after all. As so often happens at this race someone he knew tried to give him a helping hand with his van. Michéal grabbed the van for a little tow up a hill but was spotted by the marshal that was hovering around the back all day and was immediately disqualified.
Michéal knows he did wrong but felt it was either take a chance or miss the timecut due to a mechanical that was out of his control. The marshal was perfectly within his rights to disqualify so we have no complaints there. Michéal was left cursing a rás that seemed to throw everything at him. He had multiple crashes and mechanicals but kept giving it his all. It was a tough blow for Michéal and the team. Being the great sportsmen that they are, Mike and Michéal didn’t let their disappointment spoil the day for the rest of the team. It’s not easy being eliminated from the rás.
There is just something about stages into Clonakilty that doesn’t suit Nenagh CC riders. Shane two years ago and now Mike and Michéal are the new victims. Losing team mates is like a death in the family. We have all grown very close over the last few days. It was brilliant having Michéal and his young lads Podge and Rodge on tour with us. Mike has been a stalwart of Nenagh training sessions for years now and is an integral part of the team. We are gutted for him especially after all the sacrifices made.
Tomorrow we head for Dungarvan. It should be another fine sunny day with light winds. We need a decent result to boost the mood in the team so fingers crossed we pull a result out of the bag. Kenneth has said his apologies to Baby Jesus so hopefully that is the end of the bad luck. On the flip side, a team member was harangued by an elderly gentleman at dinner for use of colourful language and blaspheming. We might be struck by lightning tomorrow.
The Last Supper