Today’s stage went from Casthebar to Ballycastle for a distance of 114
km. It is, for here, a flatfish course but the wind is usually a big
factor. I had bridled the team about this, the wind direction and
tactics, based on this, the night before. When we woke, the wind was
exactly the opposite of what it usually is.
As expected, breaks went away early and Jake covered the first move of
four. This was good for us but not great. There were guys there ahead
of him or very close on GC so it made us vulnerable. The Irish team
seemed keen on getting away and putting the British team under stress
and that was good for us, if we played it right.
Hugh Carthy, on the the British team guys got into the move and that
was good and bad. He’s strong but his team has the yellow so what would
they do. We knew that they were not a good tactical team. The manager
from last year was smart and knew us but he was not directing that team
this year. They were being directed by the team owner and that is
usually not good in races like this. Pride and image tend to get in the
way of good decisions and that seemed to be happening here.
Brendan McCormack came across with one other and Colin shortly after
that with Ryan Mullan and that looked to be it. The break was about
twelve guys, mostly well placed, and gaining time quickly. The yellow
jersey was chasing hard along with the Irish national team GC hopes but
they were losing time steadily. We made the turn east into a block
headwind with probably 30 km to go and a 2:30 gap on the field and I
was happy. Colin was the yellow jersey on the road and then things
With 20km to go Hugh went clear solo. A foolish move, I thought as it’s
a long way to go but he quickly got 30 seconds on the group that
started to not work well and I started to worry. I hear over the race
radio that the yellow jersey and the Irish team are driving it and the
gap is closing back. 10 km to go and the yellow is forty five seconds
behind. The worry was that Hugh was now over a minute in front and we
were losing the jersey to someone I knew could win the overall.
5 to go and the yellow jersey caught the group going fast with about
forty guys. It was all together except for Hugh who was still off with
over a minute but slowing down fast. The time gaps were coming fast,
every kilometer and I’ve not see the time drop this quickly.
At the finish, Hugh kept just off the front by a scant twelve seconds
over the fast charging field. We were nowhere on the stage but we did
take a toll on the leader. He was not looking great and there are still
the three hardest stages yet to come.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
Thanks for reading,