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Ras Na MBan Race

posted 5 Oct 2010, 11:56 by Kevin Monaghan
By Sarah Piner

Thank you to everyone who wished me luck for my first official outing as part of the full Irish squad (as opposed to the development squad).
The 3 weeks building up to the Ras didn’t go to plan as I was unlucky to get a Virus, I guess the result of a long season. Wednesday before the Ras I made the decision, after talking to the High Performance Manager, that I would do the first stage and take it from there.
Myself and Fran Meehan arrived on Friday in time to receive a pile of nice new Irish kit and to have our first team talk with Richie McCauley (Team manager), Jenny McCauley and Olivia Dillon (TT and Road national champion). Day 1 plan was to go with every break and hope a strong group got up the road, coming into the finish Fran would lead Olivia out and Jenny would lead me out, hopefully to a successful sprint!
Everything went to plan with Olivia getting away with 4 others half way up Molls Gap. Fran worked extremely hard dragging us back to a rider trying to bridge across, she had some great form her recent World Championship Duathlon race, which she won. Then I had the luxury of sitting in and waiting for the sprint, lucky me! Olivia got the win and Jenny and I messed up our finish missing the 1km mark and not getting the result we wanted. Initially we were annoyed with ourselves but we soon realised we had a yellow (or pink) jersey to defend!
I hated this stage and was very nervous. The job was to get into the climb for the first 2 laps with an Irish team lined out on the front, avoiding a spill and giving us an opportunity to attack on the climb. I was struggling with my fitness and would have preferred to sit in the bunch like the other 70 odd riders. No chance! – Olivia told us to get up, so we did. The plan worked really well - we turned the first corner as we wanted. I was wrecked (my turn to have a bad day) but was told to go up again and keep the pace up. You don’t say no “I’m too tired” to your Irish team leader!! Jenny was flying up the hill each time and  we didn’t let anything go and sure enough Olivia got the win again, job done….for now.

2.5km time trial.
Simple plan, pedal really hard and get all fast times! Olivia won with a staggering 13 second lead over 2nd place (over 2.5km that’s pretty impressive!) Fran was a fantastic third and myself and Jenny a little further back but still inside the top 20, all very happy.
Ok, by now it’s getting complicated this, but is where the real team tactics come into play, as opposed to shall we go hard or not?! We were defending the yellow (pink) jersey and the only team really able to take it from us were Rapha. If anyone from Rapha (UK based professional cycling team) went down the road it was mine or Fran’s job to go with them and after the first 60 odd km Jenny would take over. It was Fran’s turn to have a bad day (we all have them!!) - since she was still nursing some really nasty injuries from a bad fall and had ridden really strong for the last 2 days! We didn’t let anything go and I lasted for nearly 75km so I was happy to have my work done after my performance the day before, Jenny was in fantastic form and between us no one was ever going to make up time on the Irish team leader, Olivia.

It was a great feeling to be part of the national cycling team, Olivia thanked us individually when she collected her prize – a nice touch. It was also great riding with someone as knowledgeable and as professional as Olivia and also with an experienced manager like Richie Let’s hope I picked up something for the Dysart league 2011…