Rolling the early break.
The Ras 2015
An Post Ras is Ireland’s biggest cycling event. It is an 8 day stage race that covers over 1,200 km across the country. This is the second year I have had the privilege to race the Ras and, once again, I am left counting down the days until next year’s event. This year I was joined by four other Next Gen U23 teammates. We entered the race with high hopes (last year the team managed to have Nic Hamilton finish 3rd in the GC). Lining up as the youngest team in the race we knew it would be hard to repeat such a result, but were confident we would all learn a crazy amount over the 8 days. I went into the race hoping for a strong ride in the youth classification.
The Ras is not only long (8 days), but it offers both competitive and extremely high-level racing. This year we lined up with numerous ex-world tour level racers, who arrived at this UCI 2.2 event with a both a ton of experience and a lot of strength. Experience was one thing that we Canadians lacked as this was our first full Spring European racing campaign. Overall the race was fairly successful as we finished with three top 10’s, along with impressive rides by all of the team on many of the days.
Some of the races highlights included my 9th place from the breakaway on the decisive queen stage, and Alec Cowan’s impressive sprints, which landed him 9th and a 7th places finishes. The 6th stage of the race was a huge relief for me. After having endured five tough days that included mechanical issues (I had to switch bikes on Wednesday), crashes (Tuesday) and missing some very important splits, I was finally able to turn my luck around by driving the early break to the line. 13 of us held off the peloton over 3 categorized climbs and a fast run into the finish. After making it over the final climb with the leaders, things got a little tactical with 20 km to go. Attacks forced each of us to gamble on whether to chase or wait for another rider to give into the pressure of letting someone up the road. Eventually all but three of us lost when we gambled on a group of three slipping away and none of us worked together to chase it down. With around 5 km to go the gap was 10 seconds, but with everyone hesitating to close the gap and “shoot their last bullets” we came to the line in a sprint. I tried for a late bridge with 1km to go, but was swept up when the remainder of the group started the sprint with 250 meters to go. I ended up 9th on the day.
The final two days hurt a little bit as I recovered from a 160 km day of “full gas” racing, on top of the five days before that. I was happy to sit in the peloton and just survive. After a solid two month block with 20 racing days, I was not only looking forward to finishing up the last race, but also to getting home.
After getting home and being back here in Canada for just over 24 hours I am just beginning to decompress and look back on what was the longest, but shortest, two months of my life. I am looking forward to a few days off the bike, then the buildup for the Pan Am Games in July – the team will be announced on June 1st. With the spring part of my yearlong season complete I am pleased to check it off and reflect on the past few months. They sure have been crazy!
Nice to be done!
Highlights from the day I was in the break