Ras Report Stage 4 – Kenny strong, but team manager bonks on early climb

Anyone who has never ridden over Cuam an Aispig, it’s a 39-25 climb when it’s dry and sunny and in the wet there’s a 70% chance you’ll fall off.

Luckily today was dry but it is as bad as the Gap of Mamore and the lads really struggled up it today.

The race started really fast and after 40 kilometres and 3 classified climbs there were 40 riders in a big group out the back due to speed crashes and punctures.

Unfortunately four of them were ours and only John Kenny stayed in the much depleted bunch and he did well to finish within 5 minutes of the winner and yellow jersey, who is monstrously impressive.

The stage took almost five hours and thank God there was good weather because the descents were – hmmm, interesting is a good word.

We had a plan that Neil, our dry efficient masseur would go ahead with bottles for the lads and this worked out well.

I ate all my food for the day within 10 miles of the start and Simon, the miserable bastard, teased me with his food for the rest of the stage.

The scenery was spectacular and the descent off the hill was like a bungee-jump but all the lads got down safely.

The group they were in finished 30 minutes down on the winner and six guys abandoned due to sickness and injuries.

The level of racing is very high and for guys with full time jobs and families, it is very difficult to compete over 8 days with elite professionals.

A lot of the problems riders like our team encounter, is the lack of long races every weekend and the old adage of doing 20 hours every week on your bike seems to be cast away in the same box as as other myths.

It is possible to do well in the Ras as a county rider but positioning and experience are essential – it is a two year project. The first year you train and race as much as you can. Then you ride the Ras and bring a can opener because you are going to get your hole opened.

The second year you come back having realised that you need to get your finger out of your now repaired arse and you train and listen to people who have done it and then you are privileged to get your hole opened again but this time you finish on the first or second page, and not at the bottom of the third one.

Rant over I am glad to see all our lads are still in the race and that they are trying hard and improving. They are getting more and more experience every day and I am confident they all have the ability and desire to finish.

Tomorrow is severe with the 8k climb of Coomakista coming just after the start. So the solids will be in the air conditioning from the start.

The sad news is that all Blair’s Super Chekhov Bars are gone – even the ones Simon hid. It’s back to proxy energy bars again.

By PJ Nolan