I entered newry 3 day with a few of the boys in cuchullainn cycling club Gerry McCabe, Alan Gray & Aidan Cunningham
I had mixed feelings about the race. I have been going well on the bike but the fact I never raced 3 days in a row before left me slightly nervous. Even more nervous when I heard I was the bookies favourite!! (no pressure)
The first night was a few laps of the warrenpoint carraigeway and then onto the old warrenpoint road, up greenan hill and the to finish. Im not the brightest rider in the pack and always seem to find myself at the front driving the pace on. With attacks going left right and centre it looked like nobobdy was going to get away. I managed with ‘my team-mate, Gerry McCabe’ to get away with a few others for a lap but there was only a few of us working and it wasnt long till we were pulled back. More attacks and it seemed like I was pulling them all back until one and it got away for a considerable amount of time. Long enough to worry me and I went to the front a worked along with gerry to get it back. We were getting them back slowly but we were on the last lap and the hills were about to come. I just went out the back door on the climbs and seemed to go backward. Just as well the climb isnt too long or else i would of been in trouble. The top couldnt come quick enough and once over it I drilled myself to get up the the front as there was only 5k left & I didnt want to lose any time. Eventually I got back on and finished 7th at the sprint and it set us up for the next day. Myself , gerry and alan finished in the bunch with aidan only a few seconds down
This I was told would be the deciding day with the race in the morning and the 4 mile TT in the afternoon. There was one man that I said to myself ”where he goes I go” and that was Kevin Lynch of newry cc” A more clever rider you wont find! From the gun he was gone and i was gone too and a few others jumped on and ” my team-mate Gerry” was also on. A few inspiring words from Drew McKindley made us work straight away and we seemed to gain great time on the bunch. We had 3/4 minutes at one stage. In the end we stayed away from our chasers and I got the sprint to the line & won my first stage.
Day 2 TT
Because I was in yellow I went last and if im honest i wasnt feeling too hot before it. The wind was a nightmare and when The legend that is Myles McBikepure had a word in my ear the pressure was surely on. I posted a good time and had 50 seconds i think to 2nd ‘ which turned out to be ‘my team-mate gerry mccabe” 😉 Alan and aidan were only 1 second apart and it set us up for the team prize.
With the tt result if left the GC with me in yellow and gerry in 2nd. A team meeting was called and it was decided we needed back up so we rang Peter T for the Armagh Caddy to join the party and hold spare wheels if we needed them.
Gerry was in an early break and watched what was going on and for a few minutes or so he was in yellow!! The lads worked great and really put themselves on the line. With alan and aidans experience it made things alot easier for myself. I was unsure what to do at times but never before had i such attention in a race. Maybe it was because i was in yellow!!! The group came back together before the climbs but it was soon to scatter as the pace went up as the gradient went up!
The Planet X boys tried to put in a few efforts but we covered all of them. I was feeling good on the climbs and would of loved to attack but it would of been pointless as my job was to get myself & gerry over the line together and get 1 & 2. It came to a sprint in the end and I got 4th on the day and kept the yellow thus winnig my first bike race. IT was all the sweeter with Gerry keeping 2nd.
It was a great day for the club too. All of us finished in the first group meaning we got the team prize. We might of be done out a couple of euro but the win is better than any cash prize!!!;-)
Thanks for all the support and to the Cuchullainn team, gerry, alan & aidan.