Somebody pinch me! Looking back on the weekend past it still hasn’t quite sunk in what I have achieved. I came into the race with big ambitions and to pull it off was incredible. I travelled down to Kerry on Thursday with team manager David McCann and I knew I was in good hands, the amount I learnt about tactics and racing in such a short space of time was invaluable.
The Irish team for Ras Mumhan consisted of Ian Richardson, Craig McAuley, Darragh O’Mahony, Fintan Ryan and myself. I had met Darragh and Criag before the weekend but it was the first that I had met Ian and Fintan and we all got along really well from day one. Everyone was excited to get racing in the National Team colours.
I am still going over in my head just how amazing it felt on the first day to win the opening stage of the race and take the yellow jersey. With 3 team mates in the winning move we couldn’t have asked for a better start to the race and it certainly helped set us up for what became an extremely successful weekend for the team.
Stage two was a completely different kettle of fish and it certainly tested each and every rider both physically and mentally with the weather conditions that everyone endured. For me the best moment in the stage was the feeling of descending down Healy Pass and bridging across to the breakaway, a mix of pure adrenaline and excitement, I was like a dog let of his leash! Little did I know how much the next few hours would test my mind and body. To be able to take on two of the strongest riders in the country head on and come out the other end still in the yellow jersey was a great confidence boost which motivated me for the following two days to come.
Stage 3 was a grueling day and one that I will always be grateful to my team mates for, to watch them pour every ounce of energy they had into keeping me sheltered from the wind and keeping me as fresh as possible for Coom An Easpaig was remarkable. It set me up perfectly to launch my attack and from there on I was on a mission to defend the yellow jersey, not only for myself but for my team mates who killed themselves at the front all day.
The final day was extremely nerve racking, I was comfortably in the yellow jersey and on paper the profile of the stage was straight forward to defend the jersey however in road cycling anything could have happened. In the end the team rode a perfect race and we all finished in the main bunch only 16″ down on stage winner Mark Dowling. Crossing the line I was filled with both excitement and relief, I was the 2016 Ras Mumhan winner!
A massive thank you to everyone who helped make this happen, all of my team mates, David McCann for all of his advice over the weekend, Ken Blanche for keeping my legs spinning and body fueled, Seamie and Killian Brennan for all the work on my bike and in the team car, my girlfriend Carly for all her support from day one, my family, my coach Bryan McKinney, Chain Reaction Cycles & Vitus Bikes for providing me with the tools to do the job and to everyone who wished me good luck over the duration of the race. I would also like to thank the organizers for hosting a fantastic event.