Phew! thank God that was a relatively easy day on the bike. The race might have been 96 miles long and had an average speed of 26.76 mph but it was considerably easier than the first two stage. All 5 members of the Nenagh CC team finished safely in the bunch. The dry conditions meant that the cycling was very safe with only 1 crash occurring close to the finish. This was exactly what I needed today as I felt pretty brutal and would not have lasted too long with a tougher day.
I was stiff as a board when I got up this morning with bad pains everywhere. I sure as hell wasn’t looking forward to racing today but I didn’t want to pull out of the event without first seeing if I could manage the pain and get round in one piece. Before taking to the start line in Lisdoonvara I had to visit the doctor for a check up. He was worried about my hand and wrist and suspected a scaphoid fracture and sternum damage but luckily enough I was allowed to race – I just had to get bandaged up and take my pain killers.
The rest of the lads were in good form and while I don’t think anyone ever looks forward to the race, they were all feeling good and were ready to get day 3 out of the way. The stage took us from Lisdoonvara to Charleville but we knew we were passing close to home territory so nobody wanted to be out the back early. After two days of rain, we were met with sun this morning and that meant we could put away the gilets and arm warmers. There were 154 cyclists on the start line but this number will decrease as we hit the tougher stages starting tomorrow. Today’s stage was pretty flat with just two category 2 climbs to get over, so if I could get through this stage hopefully the bruises would be that little less sore tomorrow – one day at a time!
An early break got away and that meant that after 10 miles the race settled down and the line outs ceased. With such a big peloton you get sucked along so at times it can be quite easy going. This was the way today for much of the first 80km. As we passed through villages we knew there were plenty of cheers for the Nenagh CC team – we would like to thank everyone for turning up and supporting us! After Birdhill the New Zealand team of the Yellow jersey holder started to push on the pace in their pursuit of the break away. This made things a little tougher but still manageable.
Things were almost getting a little boring until we hit Kilmallock and the first crash of the day happened. As always with crashes, many people get stuck behind the crash. This means that those that get stuck have to chase back onto the bunch. This can take a few minutes to do and it really puts you in serious pain. At times you are close to giving in but you just hold on as you know things will settle down as soon as you catch back up. That was the case here too. Once the bunch came together again things got easier but at this stage we were getting very close to the finish. The speed increased as we closed in on the breakaway. Entering the last 1km there were plenty of gaps opening in the bunch so I had to battle hard to close them.
In the end, I crossed the line beside Gary. Alan, Damian and Simon all finished safely in the bunch and are very happy with their days work. Simon once again showed good form and was breaking off the front. Alan had an easy day at the office despite puncturing early in the race. This was also Damian’s strongest day, so all n all it was a good performance from the team. Personally I was delighted to get through the day. The doctor wants me to visit him this evening to see if I have to go into hospital for a check but I don’t think I will be doing that as I don’t want to be stuck in casualty till the early hours of the morning. I am doing tomorrow’s stage and that’s just the way it is.
With tired legs, bodies and minds it is great to have such a good team helping us out down here. Kevin, Kenneth, Seán and Peter have things working very smoothly and that allows us to just focus on the racing. Bertie senior was down today too to help out and keep the young lads on their toes.
Tomorrow is the first real mountain stage with something like 10 categorised climbs to get over. Normally I would be looking forward to a stage like this but not in my current state. When its hard to change gears the last thing you want to do is head for the hills. They can’t be avoided though so there will be plenty of pain to endure.
That’s it till tomorrow