That’s the Rás more or less finished for us now. Tomorrow’s stage is usually a formality so with 3 riders getting through the stage today we should be welcoming 3 new men of the rás in the club. Today was a very hard ride and in the early stages of this race we had 3 men out the back with various issues. Luckily, we all managed to salvage the day. The delight and relief at finishing the stage within the time limit was huge.
Here’s how the day went……
First of all sorry about the lateness of the post. I had to demolish the two Kennedy’s in table tennis before sitting down to reflect on the day.
The mood of the group getting up this morning can be summed up in one picture of Shane ‘Burger’ O’Neill. He is usually cheery enough in the morning, but as you can see, it was far from being a buzzing burger this morning he was! Kenneth was also in the pit of despair. The lights would dim a little everytime he walked into a room. After 6 hard days on the bike who could blame them? Just 1 more day was all that was keeping us going.
Many of the lads we have been talking to reckon this rás has been one of the toughest ever. Strict marshalling, tough routes, small roads and a tight race at the front of affairs have made it a task just to get into the grupetto everyday. Nobody wanted to be out the back early, but when your legs go they go, and there is nothing you can do about it.
Sulky head on Burger here too. He ran out of Rice Krispies last night.
The stage today was 155km and featured a couple of cat 3 climbs and the cat 1 climb of Mt. Leinster after 100km. Our aim was to stay in the bunch as close to the final big climb as possible. However, the pace once again was very quick at the start and throughout the stage. Shane O’Neill was feeling the pinch early on and got distanced on the first significant climb. He wasn’t the first to go so there was still hope that he could work his way to the finish in time.
Shane Scully was next out the back with a puncture after 40km. Luckily for Shane, he was able to work his way back to the main bunch on the cat 3 climb at 50km. As Shane got himself back, Kenneth started to go backwards. He too had heavy legs but there were another 5 or 6 going out the back at this stage so he would be able to work well with them.
Half way through the stage disaster struck when Shane O’Neills group were sent the wrong way. They ended up doing 11km extra and now had no chance of making it to the finish in time. Leniency was shown by the marshal though and his group were able to fight their way back into the main grupetto towards the end. This required a huge effort by Shane. It would have been easy to give up but he kept pushing and was rewarded by rejoining Kenneth in the grupetto after the climb of Mt. Leinster.
Kenneth was able to relax a lot more than Shane. His group of 5 worked well together and met up with a large grupetto of around 50 riders later in the race. There was a huge amount of tired riders on the road today. Finding yourself in the grupetto is a big relief. You know you are going to get through it and it will be at a pace you can manage.
Up ahead, Shane Scully was having another good day on the bike. He stayed with the main bunch all the way to the climb of Mt. Leinster. The pace at the foot of the climb was slow and this resulted in a few lads coming off the bike and blocking the back of the bunch. Shane already had his hands full dealing with the speedsters in this group and certainly didn’t need this delay.
Shane settled into his own rhythm on the climb. He was a little way back from the 2 big splits at the front of the bunch. He made his way past a lot of cyclists on the way up but was about 25m off the back of the 2nd split and couldn’t close the gap going over the top. He made the descent all on his own but was eventually joined by another 15 or so at the foot of the climb. Shane worked well with this group to reel in the 2nd bunch ahead.
With 20km to go there was a break of 4 followed by a bunch of 30 and then Shane’s bunch of 50. This was the way it stayed to the end. Shane’s bunch stopped chasing and lost 12 minutes to the bunch ahead. At this stage of the tour none of us cares about time gaps or the GC. That was never the aim.
The grupetto came in 25 minutes down with the two boys in tow. Shane O’Neill was showing the full range of emotions from anger to despair today. I think this is him almost crying in the camper van. Maybe there are just onions in his roll!
Tomorrow’s stage brings us from Kildare up to Skerries. I don’t think we can be timed out tomorrow (must double check that!), but we still want to finish well and make it onto the circuits in Skerries. With Shane’s devastating 2 yard finishing kick he could be the surprise package for a win tomorrow. Think you might get Leicester odds of 5000-1 for that bet.
Thanks as always to everyone from the club who has cheered us on this week. Con and his dad have been there a few days and Will Rymer and the Yon Hins were there today. Stephene Greene and wife were in Dungarvan. Michael Buckley and Shane’s aunty and cousins were out in Clonakilty. I am sure there will be a few more at the finish tomorrow too. Thanks a lot it is great to know we have your support!
New handle bar tape for the finishing photos tomorrow!
Madison Genesis will be looking for their water bottles back tomorrow