The 2nd of our 3 race Winter Warriors Cup Series took place this morning. Close to 40 cyclists made their way to the start line out in Toomevara on what was a cold but bright morning. There were plenty of new faces and returning old faces on the start line today and that was great to see. The more the merrier!
With a reduced junior turn out this week, we decided to put the juniors in with the women’s group. They received a 7 minute head start on the first men’s group with a further 5 minute handicap back to the scratch men’s group. This week’s handicaps would ensure that the 3 bunches wouldn’t come together until much later in the race.
There was a lot of shivering going on at the start, mainly due to the cold but there was plenty of nervous energy in the bunch too. The race started at 10:30 with the women and juniors getting into formation quickly and working hard from the start. Thankfully the early morning frost and ice had all but cleared at this stage as the large 1st men’s group pulled up to the start line. This bunch contained those that belonged in the group and those that were just too scared to go with the scratch group.
There were quite a few in the final bunch, with a number of strong riders in the group that had missed the first race. You could see that this bunch were determined to close the gap quickly as they sprinted out of the traps. The first 4 or 5 miles were very fast and the gap to the bunches ahead was coming down quickly. On the way over to Roscrea there were already at least 10 riders out the back of their respective groups. It would be a long day in the saddle for some!
The first time all 3 bunches could see each other was coming into and out of Roscrea. No bunch had merged yet and there was now a 6 minute gap from the scratch group to the womens/junior bunch (gap started at 12). The middle bunch had closed the gap to the womens/junior bunch and both groups merged on the road before Dunkerrin. This new combined group seemed to work well together as the gap was only narrowing gradually from Moneygall onwards.
The scratch bunch were working very well together, with everyone putting in a great effort. The rolling over was very smooth and few got dropped. At Moneygall the gap was down to just 1 minute or so to the combined group ahead. Although both groups could see each other for a long while, it took until the turn off to Ballymackey (4 miles to go) before both groups came together and the real race could finally begin.
Immediately, the first break went down the road with Kenneth Kennedy first to go. He was soon joined by Shane Scully but this break was short lived, as the bunch behind were moving too fast with the end not too far away. Even though breaking away from a fast moving bunch into the wind was bound to be a futile attempt it is still good to practice. The next big breakaway came on the downhill near Knockalton with Kevin Sherlock and Mikey Browne going down the road. Again this break was short lived.
With 2 mile to go, the small rise coming up by Lisboney graveyard looked like the only possible place to get a gap on the bunch. Multiple people broke here at different stages but it was Shane and Kenneth again going over the top that succeeded in getting a small gap. They were joined by Mikey Browne and Ian O’Halloran but once again there were just too many willing chasers in the large bunch behind.
Entering the last mile and everyone was jockeying for position just behind the leading few at the top of the bunch. Nobody wanted to be the one at the front leading it into the sprint. With 500m to go, Mikey Brown put in an unexpected but great little dig at the front. He gets a 30m gap and everyone is just looking for the other person to go chase. This stall in the bunch gave Mikey the gap he needed. Finally Eoin O’Donoghue (as usual), decided to give chase but only got half way to Mikey’s wheel. The rest of the bunch then came around him and started their sprint for the line. However, it was all in vain as Mikey stayed away brilliantly to the chequered flag.
There is much debate about who was 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the sprint between Brian O’Neill, Kenneth Kennedy and a newcomer to the race. The slow motion camera below isn’t at the finishing line so I guess the 3 lads will just have to fight it out amongst themselves!! The women’s race was won by Sinéad Kennedy, who finished well up in the bunch. The junior race was won by Seán O’Neill, who stuck in the longest with the fast moving bunches. Each winner won a €100 voucher for Moynans which was kindly sponsored by Tony Maher.
This race was very enjoyable once again. A lot of people are going pretty well out there and plenty have lots to do too. Don’t be too disheartened if the race didn’t go the way you liked and don’t get too carried away if it went well for you. Just keep getting out training. The 3rd and final race will be on in two weeks time. Put in 2 hard weeks of training and check your improvement at the final race.
More photos: click here
Big thank you: to Tony Maher and Moynans for the prizes this week. Also, our thanks go to our photographers Michael and Will and our broomwagon driver Bertie Sherlock.
Word of warning: the final race route will probably be slightly different. More details to follow closer to the day.
Next Cycle: we are out again tomorrow at 8:00am. We will be heading down towards Tipperary town on a long one. Temps are supposed to get up into double figures tomorrow so make the most of it.