The traditional St Patrick's Day road race took place in Carrick on Suir with the Carrick Cup on offer. It was a cold weekend again but conditions stayed dry for most of the duration. The Tipp Wheelers trio of Richie Bresnan, Pat Ryan and Dermot Radford all took to the line in their respective races.
Again there was a massive field of A4 riders with 125 taking to the start line, facing two laps of the 33.2 km circuit. The race largely stayed together from start to finish but about half the peloton were dropped off the back by the time the race hit the 500 metre climb up to the finish line. Riche did a fine job staying towards the front of the large group but did not quite have the legs to stay at the front on the sprint for the line, finishing in the middle of what was left of the bunch.
Pat was part of approximately 100 A3 riders taking on three laps of the circuit. Following a steady start to the race a number of attacks failed to get away as the first lap progressed with the strong pace being set on the front curtailing those with ambitions of an early breakaway. Into the second lap Pat followed a number of moves, proving strong enough to get into three separate breaks and even riding across to one. Unfortunately each was pulled back again. A break was eventually allowed to get away on a tough headwind section into the last lap and Pat continued to race hard but the break was not pulled back. Pat crossed the line towards the front of the main bunch.
Following being upgraded to A1 as a result of last week's race, Dermot lined out with the A1/2 riders to take on the same race distance as the A3s. The race got off to a flying start but lessons were learned from last week and everybody was ready this time. All attacks were nullified, but that did not stop rider after rider trying their luck for the entire duration of the first lap. Just 2 km into the second lap the bunch split. Dermot was caught behind the split and spent a couple of km chasing before making contact, assisted by a couple of riders as he got there. The group behind stalled and the 20 man split opened up a good gap. Soon into the second lap the 20 man split started attacking each other. Numerous individual riders as well as small groups got small gaps but again everything was shut down. Into the third lap and the 20 man split started to look at each other and the pace stalled. The rest of the bunch behind soon came into view and there were a few more attempts to get clear. When it looked inevitable everything was coming back together the Tipp Wheelers rider took one last go at getting away and was left to hang off the front with 25 km to the finish. He pushed on as was soon joined by Eddie Barry of Planet Tri and by a Blarney CC rider. Together they forged out a 40 second gap. Behind the chase was organised and at 10 km to the finished the gap had been halved to just 20 seconds. Seeing that the speed in the break was not high enough, Dermot attacked out of the break. The Blarney rider was dropped but Eddie hung on. Together they put up a commendable fight with the A1/2 bunch bearing down on them. It was not to be and they were eventually pulled back with just 1 km to the finish, where the bunch sprint resulted in the Tipperary local Simon Ryan, riding for DMG Visit Nenagh, using his impressive sprint to take a clear second place.
The road race season moved to the Limerick CC hosted Ras Luimni over the weekend in what was to be a stepping stone in the season with no further handicapped races. There were separate races for A4s, A3s and the A1\2s were off together. Race distances were also increased with the A4s tackling a 64km distance, A3s had 96km and the A1\2 group with 125km. The day was far from ideal with strong winds, wet roads and bitterly cold conditions making racing very difficult. With Pat missing this week’s race it was Richie Bresnan lining out again in the massive A4 bunch and Dermot Radford setting off in a 45 to 50 strong A1\2 bunch. The 32 km circuit was relatively flat with one kick up just before levelling out into the finish line.
The 100+ A4 group set off on their first lap and again Richie was to the fore at the front of the bunch, which was no easy thing to do with such a large group on some narrow roads. Limerick CC were exceptionally well organised with great support from the Gardai, Medics, Stewards and some very proficient motorbike marshals all keeping the riders safe. Our man, John Mc, was on the scene keeping everybody on their toes. Due to the large bunch it was inevitable that Richie slipped back at some point and yet again he was cursing his luck. A crash occurred in front of him coming towards the end of the first lap and Richie was caught behind it again this week. He got going again and chased very hard and just about managed to get back on the bunch, dragging a number of other riders with him. Further misfortune then struck just as Richie got back in where there was a surge in speed. With the massive effort he had put in, Richie had no hope of staying with the surge in speed and was dropped off the back. He showed great fighting spirit and continued to chase, showing good mental toughness to keep going on such a horrid day for cycling when he could so easily have pulled over and climbed into the team bus. The very large number of A4 riders racing this season has made luck and race-craft even more important and each race is a learning experience for a rider who two years ago decided to get fit and give racing a go.
There was a group of approximately 45 to 50 riders competing in the A1\2 category race, including Dermot representing Tipp Wheelers. A break went immediately from the gun and Dermot found himself in a bad position, taking some time to work through the bunch. He jumped away as soon as he could see clear road but failed to make contact with the 6 man break and was swallowed up again by the bunch. The gap to the break grew with one rider dropping off the back to leave 5 up the road and despite the best efforts of the entire Planet Tri team the break was not overhauled. The main bunch continued to look to Planet Tri to ride and the racing became very negative. Riders were continually jumping off the front, getting small gaps and being brought back again. The pace would then slow considerably until the next rider jumped away. Simon Ryan of DMG Visit Nenagh was the only rider, together with one other, to pull out any sort of significant gap at 40 seconds. Simon was riding on his own as the other rider had a team mate up the road and so was eventually brought back in with the continuous attacks from behind. There was no rhythm to the race and it was stop/start, making it extremely difficult and putting main riders in trouble. Going into the last lap Dermot was still with the remains of the main bunch. Attacks continued and Dermot managed to get into one significant break where the speed was very high. A few other riders got across to it making an 8 man group that pulled away from the main bunch. As soon as a gap was formed the riders started looking at each other and the stop/start continued. Following attack after attack, Dermot planned his move and with 12 km to the finished jumped away on his own on a slight drag and into a stiff headwind. He pulled out a 100 metre gap in the 2 km before a left turn back onto the main Caherconlish road where he thought strong side winds would even up the contest, hoping the chasers would not form an echelon thereby making it man against man. His plan worked and Dermot time trialled the remaining 10 km to the finish line to take sixth place, pulling out nearly a one minute gap on the chasers.
Richie in action early in lap 1
Last Sunday's road race calendar saw the Tipp Wheelers making the trip to Broadford, Co. Limerick to participate in the Cycling Pursuits Cup, which is one of the more difficult one day races of the season. The race takes place on a 17.5km circuit with a difficult 4km climb to be overcome on each lap.
A field of over 100 riders lined up for the A4 race, with Richie Bresnan representing the Tipp Wheelers and facing 3 laps. The pace was steady for the first lap until the riders hit the climb where a good tempo was set, causing many to struggle and lose contact with the main bunch. Richie continued riding well in the main bunch, however with the pace being notched up again by the climbing specialist on the second lap a large number of riders lost contact and a group of about 30 riders moved away. Richie made the best of the situation and worked extremely hard for the remainder of the race, pushing himself in an effort to get the full fitness benefit from riding such a difficult circuit eventually leading a small group of riders across the line, the first group to come in behind the 30 riders that moved away from the main bunch on the second lap.
Yet again this week the A3, A2 and A1 riders lined up for the one handicap event of a very difficult 6 laps, totalling 105km race distance. The A3 riders set off first with Tipp Wheelers' Pat Ryan sitting amongst the 80+ field of A3s. A field of 27 A2 riders set off 5 minutes behind, followed by 14 A1 riders a further 4 minutes back. We have no information on the progression of the A1 riders through the race. Dermot Radford represented the club in the A2 category. Many of the riders thought the 5 minute handicap was going to be difficult to overhaul due to the nature of the course but after 2 laps into the race it looked like the A2s had it calculated perfectly with the gap being halved from 5.00 to 2.30. The pace was steady in both groups but on each climb more and more riders were dropping off the back, unable to stay with the pace. The A2 group halved on the first climb and was whittled down again on the second lap. With the time check given the A2 riders stalled considerably with only 5 riders willing to do any work on the front. Soon the pace dropped to a leisurely speed and the gap quickly grew out from 2.30 to 5.30 to the leading A3s in a short period of time.
This triggered a number of attacks from the A2s on the third lap but each attempt was ridden down. Eventually a Killarney rider tried his luck and was allowed to just ride away and disappear up the road with nobody willing to give chase. Pat remained in the main leading A3 bunch, though there were a number of breaks that got up the road and were ridden down, but eventually one got away. In the A2 group Dermot had a word with a couple of the stronger riders who were willing to work and planned a move. He picked his spot to attack and opened up a small gap before turning right onto the main road. He continued to power on and was assisted by Stephen Murray of Dungarvan CC and Colm Turner of the Shannon based Club Rothaíochta. Together they snapped the elastic in the bunch and by the time they hit the bottom of the climb they were clear. Unfortunately the Dungarvan CC rider could not hold the pace set on the climb, which left the Tipp Wheelers rider to forge ahead with Colm Turner. They rode down a group of A3 riders containing Pat and immediately jumped ahead to the next A3 group on the road. The two did not drop the pace and immediately went to the front and split that group, taking just one rider with them. After swapping turns on the front Dermot decided to put in a big turn to get across to the next group of 3 riders up the road but dropped Colm and the other rider that had stayed with them. He continued on and joined the 3 riders, which contained the A2 Killarney rider who had escaped earlier. When they hit the climb on the fifth lap all the riders dropped away and Dermot was left on his own to continue riding. He time trialled the last 25km of the race solo, overtaking a number of A3 riders who had been dropped off the main leading breakaway. Going into the last lap he had reduced the gap down to 3.15. Dermot crossed the line, first rider after the 8 to 10 man A3 breakaway after eating further into their lead. A number of A1 riders did join the leading group of A2 riders but at that stage the Tipp Wheelers rider was long gone, coming in about 1.30 ahead of Colm, who held off the A1\2 group by a few seconds. Dermot took away the prize for the first A1\2 rider over the line for his efforts.
The road racing season moved into its second week and the Tipp Wheelers travelled to Loughrea in Galway to take on the West Coast Wheelers open race. Richie Bresnan competed in the 55km A4 race while Pat Ryan and Dermot Radford competed in the handicapped A3/A2/A1 race.
It was a cold day with temperatures barely above freezing but the sun was shining, a light breeze and with dry roads conditions were good for racing. Richie had a bit of misfortune when warming up by breaking a spoke in his rear racing wheel, however with a spare set of wheels in the team bus Richie was quickly back on the road with a slightly less-than-perfect rear wheel. The 55km route was on rolling roads with a 5km climb just 15km into the race. Richie sat comfortably in the 90 man bunch until the main climb of the day. Numerous riders went out the back door on the climb as a 15 man group gaped what was left of the main field. Richie sat at the front of the main bunch, however a crash in the front 15 slowed them and the two groups came back together. Richie held his position very well towards the front of the group all day and was watchful of every potential move. There were a number of incidents during the race with riders hitting the tarmac; however Richie managed to stay safe. Unfortunately he got caught behind a crash in the last portion of the race and was gapped as about 15 riders moved clear. Richie worked extremely hard with a very small group and was closing in on the leaders but ran out of road, coming across the line in about 17th position, just 300 metres behind the winner. It was a great performance on a tough circuit and demonstrates how well Richie is developing.
Pat took to the line in the 57 strong field of A3 riders to take on the same 55km route but with two laps of a 15km circuit add at 45km to bring the race distance up to 85km. Dermot lined up with a 30 man field of A1 and A2 riders as they set off in chase of the A3s after a 4 minute handicap. Pat sat comfortably in the group and as they hit the main climb of the day the A3 group split in half, with Pat in the front half. Meanwhile, behind the A1/2s were riding cohesively as a group, eating into the handicap. The attacks started before the climb with Dermot getting into the mix but everything was back together at the base of the climb. The group rode steady for the first km of the climb but soon enough the attacks started flying off the front again. Eventually a 4 man group moved clear. Dermot was riding towards the front and once it became evident they were not coming back he made his move, bringing one other with him and together they moved across. The A3 split came into view on the climb. They passed these and made it across to the front split just in time as the leading 4 A1/2s started attacking off the front. Numerous attacks went off the front with Dermot either following or initiating them, but each of them was pulled back by a strong A3 group. Pat continued to sit in the bunch conserving energy. At 45km, turning onto the first lap of the 15km circuit Dermot was on the front for the sharp left hander and put a gap into the bunch on the corner. He pressed on with 3 other riders joining him and they put a good gap into the bunch. They continued but were pulled back in after 5km, where immediately another attack went. Dermot dug in and jumped across and another 8 man break was formed. This one did not last as long and after about 4km the bunch closed it down again. The attacks continued with Dermot not letting anything go.
At this point Pat had some misfortune and hit a discarded racing bottle. The handlebars jumped out of his hands and he came down, suffering a number of cuts and bruises, ending his race. We are happy to report Pat “only” suffered cuts and bruises and will be back on the bike in no time, hoping to race again next weekend. Back at the front of the race a rider went clear at the beginning of the second 15km circuit. Two more quickly joined him and once these joined Dermot decided to try his luck once more and went across to them, pulling two more with him. This time the 6 man break opened up a gap and got well clear of the field. The race for the places was between the six. With a huge amount of work done for the day, Dermot was feeling the effects. At 1km to go he decided to take a gamble and attacked the group but ran out of steam and got hauled back with 500 metres to the line. When the sprint opened up he got fourth place, giving the Tipp Wheelers their first placing of the 2013 season.
Dermot Radford took a fine win in the Ken O’Keeffe Memorial race when he just edged out Michael Lucey (Iverk Produce Carrick Wheelers) on the slightly uphill drag to the finish line in Whitechurch, Cork, today.
The Tipperary Wheelers rider had a half wheel on Lucey as he crossed the line, with Bryan Long (Cork County CC) in third.
Radford had been part of the days’ breakaway that surged clear of the peloton on the first of seven laps. They quickly stretched their advantage to over two minutes – and that’s how it remained for the day.
A chase group did go in pursuit of the ten or so men up front with a couple of laps to go, but it proved too little, too late.
Seven laps of 14 kilometres in blistering temperatures was what the riders had to contend with today and with a strong headwind approaching the drag up to the finish, it was always going to be a war of attrition.
The opening lap was lively and a group containing Long, Radford, Lucey, Ray Cullen, Aidan Gallery, Brian O’Connell, Mark Power and Denis McCarthy broke clear, with Blarney’s Barry Twohig later joining.
There were a number of others in the decisive break but they were subsequently dropped on the second and third laps.
With so many teams represented up front, it was little surprise to see the bunch stall behind as those up front surged ahead.
With a strong Blarney contingent in the escape (O’Connell, Twohig and Gallery) they were obviously being looked to to pull the win out of the bag. But Radford has been in good form this year and he is a time trial specialist too, so he clearly put that horsepower to use coming in towards the line, slightly distancing the rest of the breakaway with Lucey and Bryan Long (Cork County CC) for company.
But it was Radford who got his nose in front when it mattered at the finish.
To date the lads all seem happy with the opening five races of the 2012 season, West Coast Wheelers - Loughrea, Cycle Pursuits Cup - Broadford, Ras Luimni - Caherconlish and Carrick Wheelers Cup – Carrick.
Michael Looby is flying the flag for Tipp Wheelers. He is a power house and still has the raw talent of the 90’s when he rode as a junior, and as the 2012 season progresses he will be chasing them all down, all the way to the finish line. In Looby’s first race of the season at Broadford he finished in the bunch in very difficult terrain, second race, Caherconlish 4th place, third race, Carrick (St Paddy’s Day) 8th place finish again getting into the prizes. Looby has slimed down and been putting in some great work over the winter with the lads and it is showing. He said it during the 2011 club league and now he is proving it, Looby is back!
Richard Bresnan on his "green horn" season is learning plenty, from when to take a drink and top-up on carbs, to how the bunch works. Also, when lapped by A1/A2 riders, not to tag on and hope to be a winner… school is not out for this 25yr old. He is finishing well and strong which proves all the winter training and hard work is paying off. Richie has also had a lot of support and encouragement from all of the Tippwheelers since he became a cyclist for the first time in 2011. With every race brings skill, confidence and the determination to win. This newbie will not be green for very much longer.
Richie is also in luck (I think), with Michael Looby also competing in A4, giving Richie some pointers and pushing him on. And while Mr Looby maybe all the chat and craic, he is all the skill of a true roadie, with two placed finishes in his last two races proves my point.
Dermot Radford has been placed in with the big boys this year, A1/A2 and this has been a big challenge. The Wexford man, beginning his third year of road racing, is happy with his progress but with more time this will grow. Mr Modest won’t really spill the beans, just yet. The A1/A2 brings higher speeds, longer endurance and much more aggression. His winter training is working to his advantage and paying off with a 12th Broadford, 9th Caherconlish, only just missing out on 8th. Come on Radford, feel the burn!
Pat Ryan, having increased his training during the winter, is also going very well and is feeling quite strong in the opening flurry of races, but has been short just that little bit of luck that is needed in A3 racing. While following a number of breaks, he has been unlucky to miss those that have got away, but hopefully it is just a matter of time before he gets into the right break at the right time. As it is early in the season I am sure he will train the eye to spot the right break and get away.
To follow the lads during the 2012 race season in more detail, a link to STICKY BOTTLE has been added to the list of Links. Sticky Bottle provides coverage of the domestic and Irish-related foreign scene. They have an interest in all aspects of Irish cycling – road, track, MTB, BMX, cyclocross, downhill, you name it. Stick Bottle also cover Irish riders competing abroad at all levels.
Cycling Pursuits - Broadford
Mike - left and centre, Dermot - right
Carrick Wheelers Cup - Carrick on Suir
Richie - top left, Mike - top middle, Dermot - top right, Pat - bottom
The 2012 cycling season kicked off last Sunday, 19 February, in Monasterevin, Co. Kildare with the first race of the year. The event was organised by Newbridge Cycling Club and all proceeds were in aid of REHAB Kildare. As per many a season opener, the race was handicapped with all categories racing over the same route. Approximately 120 competitors took to the starting line to face the relatively flat 70km circuit that took riders to the outskirts of Portloaise, on to Stradbally, Athy, Kildangan, Kildare and back to Monasterevin.
The Tipp Wheelers had two representatives; Richie Bresnan was competing in his first ever race and lined up with the A4 group while Dermot Radford lined up with the A1/A2 group. The A4 group was off first and 2 minutes later the A3 group took off in pursuit. Finally the smaller group of A1/A2’s started a further 2 minutes back. For a detailed race report see www.stickybottle.com or www.irishcycling.com.
The pace in the A4 group was fast since they were trying to hold off the chasers for as long as possible. Richie, in his first competitive race, acquitted himself well by holding on to the main bunch for approximately 25 km, after which he got tailed off with a small number of other cyclists. Richie continued to work throughout the entire route and crossed the line not too far back on the main bunch. He viewed the race as a learning experience and took some good lessons away and now has a better idea of what he needs to do to stay in touch.
“I need to work on simple things like taking a drink from the bottle without finding myself sliding back from a good position near the front of the bunch to being at the very back. I also need to concentrate on holding my position in the group when cornering. These are things I should be able to fix by just being aware of them.”
The A1/A2 group split early in the race and Dermot found himself caught towards the back when the split happened and together with a couple of other riders found themselves unable to close it down. The speed however was maintained with a number in the back split working hard to eventually make contact with the main group. Dermot sat in the bunch for the remainder of the race and decided not to contest the sprint.
“The legs were just not firing today and I am not sure why that was, I should have been fresh. Hopefully I can find some form in the coming weeks.”
Next week the Tipp Wheelers are travelling to Loughrea where Richie and Dermot will be joined by Pat Ryan and Mike Looby.
The end of the road racing season is near and with only a small number of races left from which to choose Tipp Wheelers’ Pat Ryan and Dermot Radford travelled to Fermoy on Sunday 08 August to take part in the in the Dan Donovan Memorial. Heavy rain before the start of the race left a lot of surface water on the roads but proceedings got underway in the sunshine, however ominous clouds in the distance threatened further rain during the race.
The race consisted on eight laps of a 10km circuit that was largely flat, with two small drags that were not long enough to cause any real difficulty. Although conditions were far from ideal, the racing was fast and a number of breakaways were formed and brought back. Pat sat comfortably in the bunch while Dermot got himself into a few of the breakaways over the first few laps, however as the race progressed it was becoming clear that things would come down to a bunch sprint and with further heavy rain through the race it was sure to become interesting. Breakaways continued to form throughout the race however none of them were allowed to get any more than 15 to 20 seconds away and the bunch always had things under control.
At the end of lap 6 the fast moving bunch was lapping another rider, however due to a failure of the riders to shout or signal warnings the slow moving rider was clipped on the shoulder and went down heavily. Unfortunately Pat was directly behind and ran straight into the grounded rider, going down heavily himself and, considering his helmet was badly damaged, was lucky to escape any serious injuries except for a few cuts . The race continued and finished in the inevitable high speed sprint with Dermot getting up to get over the line to take fourth place.
A busy weekend for the club saw Pat Ryan and Dermot Radford taking part in the Mark Hayden Memorial road race in Kildavin, Co. Carlow on Sunday 17 July, which was hosted by Carlow Cycling Club. With little racing on during the month of July, there was a large field taking on the 3 lap, 90km race. The long circuit proved to be difficult with many long drags and very strong winds hampering riders.
With only 10km raced a break of 5 riders got off the front of the bunch and opened up a significant lead. Shortly afterwards two other riders jumped clear, who were soon followed by Dermot. He caught the two riders and together they chased hard to eventually join the five leaders. The breakaway was almost completely closed down in the final kilometre, with the tail end of the eight man group being swallowed up, however the sprint for the line kept the stronger riders just about clear of the bunch to race for the places.
Dermot was unlucky to pull his foot out of the pedal twice in the last 100 metres but still managed to finish in third place. Pat also put in an excellent performance, emerging as one of the stronger riders from the bunch to finish in twelfth position.
The Munster Road Race Championships were held in Whitechurch, Co. Cork on Sunday 03 July. The 97km race was held in very warm conditions over nine laps of a tough circuit that descended on the way out and had one long drag on the way back with a final kick up to the start / finish line. The A3 riders got a three minute handicap on the A1/A2 riders, however the deficit was overhauled on the fourth lap.
After some very aggressive riding when the race merged a ten man break finally got away from what was left of the main bunch and a second break quickly formed ahead of a depleted main field. The ten man break established a firm lead as the pace went out of the pursuers but with some aggressive riding by Dungarvan CC, Comeragh CC and the Tipperary Wheelers rider the second break on the road was pulled back in on the final lap. The pace was fast on the last long drag up to the line but the Tipp Wheelers man positioned himself well on the race to the line and when a Blarney CC rider sprinted for the line he kicked hard on the uphill finish, pulling clear of the field to cross the line in eleventh position overall and the second A3 rider to finish.