RAS Comeragh CC Live Coverage - Stage 6
STAGE 6, FRIDAY 22nd MAY, SCARIFF – CASTLEBAR, 159 KMS.
The following day’s 159 kilometres to Castlebar also favours those specialists as the only climbs – the category three Lecarrow and Killanena – come shortly after the start in Scariff. However it’s certain that breakaway riders will try to foil the sprinters and slip away early on, setting the scene for a gripping pursuit match in the final hour.
SCARIFF, Lecarrow Category 3 KOM, Killanena Category 3 KOM, Dromindoora, Gort, Ardrahan, Craughwell, Athenry, Laraghmore, Corrofin, Belclare, Caherlistrane, Shrule, Kilmaine, Ballinrobe, Partry, Ballintubber, Ballheane, CASTLEBAR.
Live coverage begins at around 11.
11:00 - Its one of those days that can’t make up it’s mind. Generally it’s wet and miserable but the sun was out a little while ago. Nonetheless the riders are keeping their rain gear on.
11:04 - We are off. 148 riders have started, Ciaran Cassidy and Dan Morrissey rider Hugh Mulhearne have not started.
11:05 - All Comeragh riders are present and correct. They are all in good shape, especially Keith who is feeling quite good today, he might even have a go….
11:06 - Danny Carroll of Clonmel has been having a little knee trouble but speaking to him before the start he said he was fine.
11:08 - Its been quite active already, a couple of Mayo riders attacked from the flag with Mark Power. John Dempsey had a go too but it is all back together on the first KOM.
11:10 - Its another mostly flat stage but as we saw yesterday that doesn’t mean easy.
11:11 - Its mostly narrow lumpy roads for the first hour or so. Coupled with the wet conditions and slight tailwind, these are ideal conditions for a long breakaway.
11:13 - A handful riders have gone out the back on that climb. They should make it back though.
11:16 - O’Loughlin takes that KOM and one would suspect that it’s game over in the mountains competition. He wants to keep this pink jersey. I wonder why they changed from Polka dots to pink? Answers on a postcard please.
11:19 - Of course O’Loughlin will be going through his home county and might want to do something… When I rode the Balinrobe 2 day last year he was at the Olympics and there were banners everywhere for him with his face all over the local papers. He might want to do something for the fans.
11:20 - But first he will have to bring back a 4 man break including Mccann, Kenneally and Russ Downing.
11:22 - Heres the second and final KOM of the day.. It’s a tough one.
11:34 - Bodies everywhere. Danny, Keith Fox and Shelly of Clonmel are out the back.
11:35 - We pass Don over the top, he is a little out the back.
11:40 - Crash! It’s 157.. Keith.
11:44 - We have had to give Keith a bike change. He’s ok but he has lost a lot of time.
11:45 - He has joined the group Don is in which is about a minute out the back of the main bunch. Robin is between the 2 groups moving up the cavalcade.
11:47 - These roads are brutal, there isn’t 100 yards of flat, it’s either up or down and it is carnage at the back of the bunch as we pass through Gort.
11:51 - Or Rio De Gort as it is sometimes known due to the large number of Brazillians living and working locally.
11:52 - Robin is still in the cavalcade, he would do well to get back here, there is a small group around him including local rider Cathal McCarthy. We passed Micky Fitz on the road as well not sure where he is now. Possibly back in the Keith, Don group.
11:54 - We don’t know how Keith crashed. Race radio said he just slid off. We don’t know what’s wrong with the bike either, hopefully nothing serious, it’s only a week old after his previous one got written off in a crash at the tour of Ulster.
11:58 - The important thing is that he is ok. He will lose time today.
11:59 - Robin is out the back of the cavalcade. He surely can’t make it back from here. At least he has Don and Keith in a group behind him.
12:00 - At the front Rapha Condor are controlling it. 6 riders were about 10 secs off the front including Irvine and Surdival but it’s all back together.
12:05 - They have done 46km in the first hour. That’s extraordinary on this terrain.
12:07 - Robin is back into the cavalcade as former yellow jersey Ian Wilkinson of Halfords attacks, Kenneally goes with him as do 3 other riders from the European teams. They have 22 seconds already.
12:11 - We had heard that Mark Power had gone out the back of the bunch but he hasn’t come back this far so he must have rejoined.
12:13 - The situation so far is a 5 man break at 24 seconds to the bunch. Michael and Mark are in this bunch, we think all the remaining Dan Morrisseys are too. Martin Gill should be there too. There is another group a couple of minutes behind containing the remainder of the Clonnel team plus Don and the extremely unfortunate Keith.
12:17 - Keith was our best placed rider at 13mins down. He will lose a good bit today and that should put us well out of the county competition. We were fifth at the start of the day.
12:20 - The break is at 20 seconds, Wilkinson has lost contact with it. I don’t think they will stay away unless some riders come across to them.
12:21 - In the meantime, Robin has not given up. He is moving back up the cavalcade again. Incredible determination.
12:24 - The break is at 40 seconds. Brendan Lacey of Kerry has abandoned.
12:26 - We believe that Robin has incredibly rejoined the main field. He has been chasing for 40 minutes a bunch that was travelling at 45kph. He really kept the head there.
12:31 - 1:06 for the 4 leaders, Brian Kenneally of Egraveit, Laurent Didier of the Denmark team, Espen Jogert of Norway and Peter Ronsse of Australia Cinelli. They are really giving this a go.
12:34 - Thanks for all your comments by the way and also for pointing out the problem with the white text in the comments box. If I get a decent Internet connection tonight I will sort that out.
12:40 - 1:24 to the leaders. Rapha Condor are monitoring this one closely. The yellow jersey is sitting 4th wheel and looking comfortable. It will take something special to dislodge these guys from the lead.
12:43 - Martyn Irvine has abandoned after seeing the race doctor. He saw the doctor yesterday too so he must be sick. Possibly sick of carrying bottles for McCann! No seriously Irvine is a great rider, he has been super agressive all week attacking practically every day, unfortunate to see him have to pull out like that.
12:51 - The gap is 1:37 now.
12:52 - 78k done. We are about halfway through the stage and it has all settled down somewhat. That was a manic start today.
12:54 - We got a call from the Clonmel team car which has given bottles to our riders behind. They are both up and rolling. We are bitterly dissappointed for Keith today, he was feeling good and was going to try to get into a break as he did on stage 4.
12:58 - Ouch. Bad crash for Ole Jorgen Jenson of the Norway Giant-Veolia team. He has landed a considerable distance from his bike and is holding his shoulder. Broken collarbone maybe, definitely race over for him.
13:01 - Did you notice the banner for our sponsor Lifemax Mila Seed on the front page? It’s a natural seed full of all the good stuff you need. Conor has been using it for months, he mixes it with his porridge or yoghurt. He hasn’t been sick all year, the mouth ulcers he used to get have disappeared too.
13:07 - 87k done. It’s roughly a 43kph average so far.
13:08 - Robin radios in from the main bunch that his heart rate monitor has broken. I am not surprised, it probably exploded on that long chase back.
13:15 - Robin has just come back for a bottle. Damn there’s a lineout, he could be in trouble here, he is in the cars… This is rotten luck.
13:19 - The Kenneally group is still hovering at around 1:30 with Rapha Condor driving the main bunch.
13:22 - That gap is now 2:02. Still 60k to go. Kenneally will have targetted a stage win this week to go with the 2 he won in 2007. 2007 was widely considered to be the hardest ever RAS, this one could run of close.
13:25 - We saw Michael at the back of the main bunch along with Martin Gill of Wexford when we were up feeding Robin.
13:27 - Neutral service has run out of wheels again today! Lots of punctures on these secondary roads.
13:28 - Robin is back in the bunch anyway and radioing in for a time check on the break which is now at 1:58.
13:30 - We are also texting on updates to our van crew, Cian Power and Leon Mullally. We are carrying a lot of equipment, 8 bikes, 20 gear backs, 5 sets of spare wheels. 6 boxes of food, nearly 200 liters of water, deck chairs, table, a gazebo, a massage table, tool kits etc…. I could go on. Luckily we have been provided with VW crafter van by our sponsors, Tom Murphy Car Sales, Waterford. The thing is enormous, we still have space to spare. Look it up, Its the biggest van I have ever seen.
13:39 - Bit of a reaction from the Designa Kokken team from Denmark. Their man, Mads Christensen is only 2:42 back on GC but they are probably thinking of contesting for the stage win at this stage.
13:41 - They have shaken it up a bit, that break is down to 1:15.
13:44 - Down to 45 seconds now. Looks like game over for Big Ben Kenneally and his breakaway companions.
13:47 - 30 seconds now and they are flying in the main bunch, there are riders falling out the back as we pass through shrule with 114k done.
13:50 - Martin Gill is one of those riders as is Stephen Surdival. Gill might make it back though, he is motoring along nicely in the cars.
13:51 - The main bunch may have split, we are hoping to get a visual soon. Meanwhile at the front former Team CSC man Luke Roberts and is Kuota Germany team are driving at the front. The break has been caught and it is all together again.
13:55 - 40k to go… Now that they are all together again it’s only a matter of time before they start ripping each other to shreds. Sure enough there goes one of the Greek team.
13:56 - We can see a group of about 20 riders seperated at the back of the cavalcade. We are not sure but we think Robin might be in it.
13:59 - Roberts stops for a wheel change. The front of the race is altogether with the yellow jersey sitting about tenth wheel.
14:00 - We were on the N17 for a while there. I can confirm that there were indeed stone walls and green grass. Thanks to the Sawdoctors for the heads up.
14:03 - A group of 3 went away including David McCann and Ushers Peter Hawkins. They are back again though. Except Hawkins but he is coming back now. After his crash on day 1 Hawkins has had to go to the doctors car every day during the race, he has also punctured almost every day. With that kind of luck I wouldn’t bother buying any tickets for tomorrows lottery draw.
14:08 - Passing Balinrobe, Hawkins is about 15 seconds ahead. Rapha are on the front. 30k to go.
14:11 - The split in the bunch is at 1:05, Robin is in this group. Looks like someone might have dropped a wheel, when the heat is on and that happens you need luck on your side or you are gone no matter how strong you are.
14:14 - Apart from that first KOM, David O’Loughlin has been very well behaved. Perhaps he will be happy standing on the podium in Pink in his home county later or perhaps he is saving his strength for a big finish.
14:19 - Approaching 20k to go, it’s looking like a bunch finish again. Ciaran Fallon is in one of the Kildare cars so we might get a few pics today! Not wanting to put you under any pressure Ciaran.
14:24 - Still all together at the front under the watchful eye of the Rapha Condor team.
14:27 - We have just passed the group behind the main bunch. Robin is in it, also Michael Hennessy is in it as are Mark Power and John Dempsey of Dan Morrissey. Martin Gill was there also.
14:32 - They are about 2 minutes back at least. Rapha Condor are still at the front driving it along the flat at a mere 50kph.
14:33 - 10k to go. Our Mark Nugent is still in this main bunch with all the pro’s. It’s his first RAS at the age of 21 years old. He only took up cycling 2 years ago, expect to hear more of his name in the coming years.
14:33 - We are hearing that the group with Keith, Don and the Clonmel boys is about 25 minutes behind.
14:38 - Its all quiet at the front. 6 riders have gone clear of the second group. Not sure who they are or where they are.
14:40 - Dempsey is one of the five. They are 18 seconds ahead of that group and 2:45 behind the leaders. 6k to go.
14:42 - 4k to go… The speed is on. 70kph!!!!! On the flat. Kuota Germany are leading it out, the Pink jersey of O’Loughlin is at the front too….
14:44 - Dangerous finish here, couple of roundabouts and traffic islands.
14:47 - Sprint finish…
14:57 - Paul Helion of Ireland wins. A fantastic result. I think that’s the first Irish winner of the week. He beats Jaan Kirsipiu who is apparently no worse for wear after downing 4 or 5 pints last night.
14:59 - Mark Nugent finished in the sprint, he held back a little and didn’t contest it. He was happy to finish in the same time as the winner.
15:00 - Castlebar looks great today, lots of spectators. Robin and Michael came in about 4 minutes down in another group. Mark Power was with them as was Martin Gill. John Dempsey was in a group of 5 about 15 seconds ahead.
15:19 - Keith and Don have just come in about 25 mins down. Keith is ok, sore and a little bloodied but he should be fine to continue. It was a broken pedal that forced the bike change after the crash. The rest of the Clonmel riders were in this group.
That’s the end of todays coverage. Full results will be on the Irish Cycling and FBD Insurance RAS websites later.