Ras Mumhan Stg 3

By May 18, 2017 Racing No Comments

Today was the queen stage of Ras Mumhan Philip Cassidy once described this as the finest road stage in Ireland (or words to that effect) and any time I have rode it regardless of how I have gone I would agree with this sentiment, it has everything climbs, descents, twisty technical roads with Kerry’s finest surface and wind normally lots of winds as we start right on the coast. The first 4km were neutralised as perhaps the 4 most nerve wracking km of the stage as we all battled for position to be near the front when the flag dropped. I am glad I rode cross for the winter as I had to employ lots of the skills honed from cross to get near the front of the bunch.
Ironically we started off handy enough as we were into a headwind, we had one uncategorised climb before the first official kom, the descent stretched out the bunch before we hit the climb I dropped my chain at the bottom of the climb a big thanks to John Brosnan who gave me a shove when I got it back on. The pace was on going up the climb as we had a tailwind, I was relatively comfortable and was in no danger of going out the back door, plenty of riders were in trouble and the bunch was down to approx 100 riders. There was a constant battle for good position as the wind was a constant threat. The next climb on the agenda was the climb on Valentia Island, there was a big battle heading to the island as its normally a key point in the weekend, I remarked to Eugene Moriarty on the way in that this is what Easter Sunday is all about forget Easter eggs it’s about the constant battle to be in a good position hitting the climb as its steep and very narrow. I hit the climb in about 10th position, I may have lost a few watts over the years and put on some kilos but it’s good to see I can still navigate the bunch. I rode the climb relatively steadily as I knew I had plenty of sliding room, over the top I was about 30th we dived down the descent but there is a 90degree bend that kicks up again as I came around it I was greeted by the sight of Sean Lacey climbing down out of the ditch he had obviously gone into it a bit hot. The 3 aqua blue boys are riding a great race they are never out of the top 20 and they are constantly on the move and should excel in the ras when the continental teams drag the best out of them.
Back off the Island we were in real ras mode as we were tipping along at 50-55kph we spent most of the way to Cahersiveen in the gutter I was telling myself this was great as the stage would be over sooner!!! Around this time (not sure exactly as I was concentrating on surviving) a break of 8 went away, the Strata 3 boys were not happy with this and did a heap of riding to keep it under control they gave an exhibition of riding. The climb past Mick Murphy’s house was steady hard, big thanks to the guy from NewCastle West who gave me a bottle near the top, on a long day like this it’s key to keep eating and drinking. We pinned down the other side at this time I checked the Garmin we had averaged 42kph, mercifully there was a bit of a stall after 90k….. I will say that again the foot was on the gas for 90k. For a brief period everyone eat and drank to prepare for the battle ahead. A few teams and Strata started riding again but I was into the wind and the lift went out of the bunch it looked like the winner would come from the group up the road.
The climb of Coomanaspic was my mental finishing line, I was happy to get there with the bunch and resolved to ride up it as handily as I could find a group and ride in the road, there was one small problem with my plan. My racing wheel’s freehub died a few days before the race and I was on a borrowed rear wheel (thanks to Derek for this) but it only had a 23 sprocket on, so I had to go full gas just to maintain forward momentum. I was zig zagging all over the road just to get up it, I had started at the back of the bunch and made it over with a few bodies for company. There was a great crowd on the top and I gratefully grabbed a can of coke off a spectator. The descent can only be described as technical and super-fast. Approaching the first corner I saw Marcus Tracey on the ground David Brennan who was with me went straight on and clobbered into the ditch as well. I backed off for the rest of the descent and took it relatively handily. Hitting the next climb we had a group of ten or so we made sure to keep it relatively handy as I knew we would have a few more coming back up to us and the more the merrier in these circumstances. On the next descent Mark Shannon of Burren RT did his best to kill himself by getting it wrong on the last corner and did well to avoid hitting a wall. We now had 25km to go and the group got organised and started to ride not flat out but we were not hanging around either. We eventually came in 6 minutes down which I was content with.
When we got in I was told Cathal was out as he had crashed twice. He came off on the first corner on Coomanaspic, he locked it up and hit a car to make it worse he hit teammates Sean’s car that his mother had drove up there!!! He remounted and got going again with a badly damaged rear tub, on the next descent where Mark Shannon nearly came off he hit the deck again and this time he went over the wall and broke his gear lever so that was his race over. Sean had being active early on and came in a group 10 min down, Ray had a hard day and was in trouble early but did well to find a group and finish. The guys in the team car had a hectic stage as well with one rider hitting the back of the car but thankfully no one was seriously hurt. Tomorrow is the final stage 11 riders are within a minute of the yellow jersey so there is a lot to play for