First of all we’d like to thank our support crew of Martin McNally and John Dunne who came to Kerry for the weekend and gave their time generously. We also need to thank our Mayo.ie Ras Team management of Ray Staunton and John Brennan for their efforts so far.
Our team for Ras Mumhan 2015 was Keith O’Connell, James McGreevey, Richard Meaney and Patjoe O’Connell.
There was a huge entry of 209 riders including JLT Condor, Scottish National team, a couple of dutch pro teams, Cycling Ireland U23 Team and the usual big domestic teams like Team Asea and Aqua Blue. Mayo was well represented with Westport, Castlebar and Ballina Liquidworx all fielding teams. Our goal as a team was simple: measure ourselves against the best in the Country and see have we improved from last year. This years course was designed for climbers and with the organisers looking to gain UCI status there was a time limit applied to the race depending on the severity of the stage. This meant lads were more eager to ride but as usual there were the tail gaters that wouldn’t ride through.
Anyway, Stage 1 was 100k, starting and finishing in Kilorglin, with a numbers of climbs spliting the peloton after 50k Richie made the front group gaining 10mins on the chasers. Keith, James and Patjoe were leading that chase with Keith and James attacking in the last 15k to gain 30sec on the bunch. Patjoe was at the head of affairs as usual in the bunch sprint.
Stage 2 was based in Kenmare 144k over 6 categorised climbs and another few uncategorised according to Patjoe. There was a big crash after 16k which ruined the stage for all our riders as Richie broke his derailleur, all the other lads had to chase back on before the first climb putting them into the red. Once over this 4km climb the lads faced into the cat 1 climb of Healys Pass which split the race to pieces. On an eventful day the lads all made it home with loads of time to spare. There were 20 eliminations on the day and along with crashes etc from day 1 the race was gradually narrowing down.
Day 3 was a real stinger. What was meant to be a 125k turned out to be 143k with an extra climb and again there were a number of uncategorised climbs for good measure. The organisers brought the race on the wrong route in crosswinds which melted the riders before regrouping and turning back onto the race proper. The Colmanspic was like a wall after 110k in splitting crosswinds and sweltering climbs. As one local put in when turning for the climb “we’re about to go to the moon”. Patjoe rode well on this stage staying in the top 10 of the chase group all day. All of the lads were in that chase group, James had a mechanical and had to chase back on through the cars while Richie rode the bunch on well up the climbs. Patjoe and Keith lost contact with the group going over the Colmanspic but chased on down the twisting decent, paced up another Cat 2 before regrouping on the following decent. Obviously it was Richie and James who had been driving on the split but our team radios weren’t working! Even though the lads were 19mins but with a raging bunch Keith and Richie kept things safe by giving Patjoe a leadout for the bunch sprint.
Stage 4 was on Easter Monday 115km on flat roads but still 600m of climbing with a Cat 4 up through Kilorglin 9 times! Keith managed to have a go off the front from the start and attacked again on the 2nd 25k lap. But the big teams were anxious to keep things together and nothing eas getting away. Patjoe and Richie ride well on the 9 town laps with Patjoe returning the favour to Richie on the final hill sprint finish.
All the lads did well with huge improvements on last year obviously along way to go but they’ve the confidence to put it upto the best riders in the country.
Report by Keith O’Connell