To quote Tommy Campbell ‘ The Kerry Group Ras Mumhan came of age on the 2nd stage on the Healy Pass and Molls Gap over 86 miles’. Slaney Cycling Club represented by Alex, Murt and Frank also came of age and brought Slaney to a new level by competing in what was generally accepted as the toughest edition of this great event so far. Riders had to contend with everything the weather had to throw at them, Atlantic gales accompanied by driving rain. Include seventeen categorised climbs, echelons forming from the start on narrow twisting roads, the inevitable punctures and crashes, those conditions can break a mans spirit. We won’t even mention the B n B with no heating and lack of working showers!
All 3 riders were victims of punctures and crashes. Murt punctured at the bottom of the first cat 2 climb on the 2nd day at 40mls while lying in 40th position o/all. The ever cool Murt picked up rider after rider and formed a large working group and forged ahead to finish strongly at the front of this group on top of Molls Gap into the teeth of a gale. Some riders had to be literally pushed over the finish line, such was the force of the wind. This was a classic Ras stage and Steven (Ted) and I were proud of the lads who showed great courage and determination.
Sundays stage proved just as difficult with the incessant wind and narrow roads playing havoc in the peleton. The Skelligs loomed ominously on our left as we headed into our first climb at 30 mls. Race radio announced every managers nightmare.’ Crash’. Both Alex and Frank took heavy falls. Frank landed on the elbow he fractured in Ras Connachta and was unable to continue despite his eagerness to carry on. With 60mls to the finish Alex joined up with the remaining crash victims and rode on to the stage end in Waterville. Another hard day at the office. Murt and Alex rode very well in the bunch on Mondays final stage which took in a 50ml loop before finishing with 10 laps of the tough Donal McKenna circuit in Killorglin.
We all have a deep affinity with the bike and as Steven remarked on the way back home this was one of those classic bike races that you’ll always remember. Well done to Alex, Frank and Murt and thanks to Steven, Shane and Neil for helping with transport, service, cleaning bikes etc. Well done also to Alan, Dan and Caimin in Gorey. It was a great weekend for Wexford cycling with all five clubs represented. Had Alan Galavan and Dave Walsh experienced better luck Wexford riders could have finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd o/all in the Gorey.