Easter weekend for the last 2 or 3 years is spent down in the Kingdom with like minded fools that ride bikes. We were down racing the epic 4 day race Ras Mumhan that takes in some of the most beautiful countryside your eyes will ever see. But this time it was hard to see because we were dodging pellets sometimes called hailstones.
I was not looking forward to it nor did I think was I ready. There was no gamesmanship in previous blogs talking down my form. I have to give a word of thanks to Brendan Grimes for bigging me up and restoring my confidence. I went down with the intention riding for the team but the race turned on its head on day 2 and i had to roll with what was about to happen.
Day one for me was exactly what I thought about myself. I went backwards on the drags and climbs but I used my experience to hang in and finish in the bunch. Ali and Mark were in the break and were super strong, unfortunately for them 4 of the Irish team were in it too. It was a tactical error in our part that was to be the difference for the weekend. Mark finished 3rd on the stage.
Day 2 is in my favourite town of Kenmare. I know the roads pretty well at this stage and its a stage I go well in but i didnt expect much because of yesterday. But all of a sudden im up the road with a gap going out to the bunch before we hit the Healy pass. Im with 4 others and my thinking is ride hard as fuck and hopefully a selection comes across. I sat up on the decent on the Healy as I saw Ali coming across but he was with the Yellow of McGlinchey from the Irish team. Not ideal but we rode together. The gap went out very quickly with conditions worsening and riders fading in the break. Ali makes a move over a KOH at 70km and I follow taking the guys by surprise. Instantly we're gone and we go to work. From here Im convinced its the move that'll stamp our control on the race. We get a time of Fifty odd seconds to the yellow in the middle of the Ballingeary climb. But like houdini I hear a free hub spin and its the yellow jersey.
So we have to reinvent our strategy. McGlinchey got a free ride for a long time and it annoyed me so cresting and then descending the county bounds i put an effort in that would force him to ride infront of ali. I wanted Ali to get a free ride while McGlinchey chased me. Thats what happened but all the time the conditions are shocking. Its cold, wet and windy. Time goes out but I get word McGlinchey dropped Ali. Ali cramped up and lost his wheel...That wasnt meant to happen so now I had to keep going for the stage. Id been riding hard all day and the strava file shows it. My pace dropped considerably coming to the line but with encouragement from the team car and Brendan going nuts I crossed the line taking a Memorable stage. I only had 4 secs to spare where I should have held my 50 second advantage but I have to give credit to mcglinchey for that.
You wouldnt put the cat out in it.. The weather was ridiculous. I think lads signed on but didnt tog out.. Coming out of Waterville we lit it u along with Aqua blue and few others to really isolate the Yellow jersey. I wasnt too hot from the previous days efforts and was under pressure but Im baffled how it stuck together as it was really hard for the first 20/30 mins. The Irish team showed theyre calibre at that point in the race and It was the winning of the jersey. We had to sit on our hands for a while and sent Dowling and Armstrong up the road. Here I thought GC could be turned on its head if Dowling would let loose. It nearly was to be but Mark ran out of steam and took 3rd on the stage. Myself and Ali got distanced on the Comminaspig climb but we were to make ground with 30km to go and finish with the yellow. I blew my lights with 5 km to go and rolled in 20 secs off the jersey.
Try as we might McGlinchey was too strong and fit for what my tired body could give. Plan A was to somehow get the jersey. Plan B was Dowling or Armstrong to win the Stage. Two boys were trucking and Dowling made the move and established the break with some smart riding. Late on Armstrong was going over but was to puncture. The Peleton always catching the break my job was now to somehow control the peleton and not let anything out. Luckily Mark gauged his effort to perfection and took the last stage.
As a team we won the Points, Mountains, 2 stages, 2 x 3rd's on a stage and 2nd &3rd overall. To top it off we got best team. It was a successful weekend but Id give it all away for me or Ali to have taken the Yellow Jersey. No doubt we'll be back.
On reflection I made some tactical errors on the road that are bugging me but Ill put it in the memory bank. Im happy how the weekend went, the team working well on and off the bike. Thank you to the Ras mumhan for a great weekend racing and special thank you to Brendan Grimes and Gary morton for looking after us like professionals. And apologies to my wife... Twitter had her at her wits ens on Sturday.... 33 seconds... 28 seconds... 21 seconds.... 10 seconds... Winner! thank fook!