Wheelers Show of Strength at Shay Elliot & Dunsany CP

Post date: May 28, 2012 4:24:17 PM

To the innocent bystander, last Sunday was a nice sunny day, however, if you were one of the 80 plus riders signed on to ride the 55th edition of the Shay Elliot Memorial hosted by Bray Wheelers, it was an extremely blustery day and definitely one for the strong men of the bike.

The Shay Elliot Memorial is Ireland’s most prestigious one day race and past winners include a who’s who of Irish cycling. This race is for A1/A2 riders only however, there was a special dispensation given to Irish Junior Champion, Ryan Mullen of the English based team Planet X, to ride and in doing so he was trying to emulate the great Sean Kelly who won this event as a junior in the early 70’s.

Lakeside Wheelers were represented by Johnny Murray, Pete Rimmer and Damien Shaw with all three of them in good form of late. To have three of our club members representing Lakeside Wheelers and Mullingar at this level is something for every member to be proud of but also a serious achievement, and a reflection of the progress the club has made over the last few years.

With Joe Duffy at the wheel and Shay O’Toole in the pillion seat the Wheelers team car set off along the N11 where the action commenced from the outset. After barely 20km our race radio crackled out the news that Johnny Murray was in a break with race favourite and pro rider, Philip Lavery of Node 4. It wasn’t long before number 44, Damien Shaw reacted and rode across to join this group which was riding very aggressively and soon formed into a 5 man breakaway although Johnny soon dropped back to the main bunch. With the gap at 40 seconds and growing, this group hit the first incline in Rathdrum which put paid to the efforts of Timmy O’Regan of DID Dunboyne. Now we had a very strong foursome of Lavery, Shaw, the junior, Mullen and last week’s Tour of Ulster winner, Adam Armstrong of Eurocycles.

Very quickly the split to the bunch went out to 1 minute 25 seconds which gave the green light to the Wheelers support to move “gingerly” up through the cavalcade and sit just behind this quartet. The riding was of the highest standard with all doing their share however, a surprising development arose after 65km with Armstrong abandoning to his team car. With the leaders now reduced to a three man effort and speeds hitting over 40MPH along the Carlow road the gap was 1 minute 50 seconds. This level of exertion soon resulted in the Junior Champion biting the dust as the group hit a short but steep hill outside Aughrim but it was a supreme attempt from such a young rider. Now Damien was alone with the pro rider from Node 4 and as we spoke to him he was in good shape and glad of the sugar kick from the can of coke we gave out and which he very sportingly shared with Lavery.

With just over 100km of the race complete the two leaders turned at Glenmalure to climb the big hill of the day the top of which is marked by a monument to the famous Irish rider, Shay Elliot. This steep drag goes on for exactly two miles and proved to be the turning point of the race but unfortunately for rider number 44, Damien Shaw, it was to expose the lack of racing miles in his now lactic filled legs. Lavery immediately pulled out a gap of 80 yards and maintained this to the top, cresting with a 20 second advantage over Damien who rode a steady tempo uphill but could not bridge over. The descent was extremely technical and saw the pro rider go down like a formula one driver using all his bike handling skills to leave the Lakeside man in his wake. Shaw was very soon caught and passed by a second Node 4 rider who was tailing last year’s Mullingar 2 Day winner, Ryan Sherlock in hot pursuit of Lavery.

With several riders now using the considerable tailwind to break out of the main bunch the race radio was constantly firing out numbers and names, one of which was 113. This belonged to none other than the teak tough Pete Rimmer who had got himself tucked into a fast moving group of 13 riders who were making great inroads on the way to the finish line. With Damien feeling the pain, our job as team support now turned to Pete and pulling alongside him it was clear he was in fabulous form and looking extremely comfortable. This group raced full out as they returned to the N11 until they were about 5km from the finish and then the cat and mouse games started. Not to be outdone, Pete was equal to these tactics and when the hammer went down he forced his weary legs to push him forward and claim a fantastic 4th in the sprint, an effort that gave him 16th overall behind Lavery who in the end, just held off the challenge of Sherlock.

Back at base there was more good news for “Rim Ram” as he was declared the 4th A2 rider to cross the line which was just reward for his day in the saddle. Pete has been showing top class form of late and is surely a favourite for the Donegal 3Day in June. For Johnny Murray it was an extremely tough day at the office and one of those races where the legs just didn’t respond but he showed true grit and finished what is definitely one of the most difficult races in Ireland.

Before we all departed for home we were treated to some welcome and very tasty refreshments by the Bray Wheelers club members who once again put on a top class race.

Well done to Pete, Damien and Johnny for a fabulous effort which did not go unnoticed by the powers that be in cycling and also for keeping Lakeside Wheelers to the fore of Irish cycling.

Shay O'Toole, Peter Rimmer, John Murray, Damien Shaw & Joe Duffy at the 2012 Shay Elliot Memorial