It was the longest stage of the tour today, with 188 kilometers from Mullingar to Charleville through the heart of the “green Island”. To participate at “the Ràs” is always very special, as this race is more than just a normal stage race. It has more a character of a big tradition in Ireland and it seems that everybody celebrates the Ràs when it rolls through the villages.
Also the Irish county teams are every year more than motivated to “fight” against the professional teams from Europe and give the best they have to make the race as hard as possible for them. Couple of times this also leads to nervous and hectic race and leads from time to time to crashes. And you can believe: to get down on Irish roads hurts like hell, as the asphalt is very hard and not friendly to skin and bones. But this is also what makes this race so unique and special!
Today’s stage had all what it needs to have an interesting race day. It began very fast and hectic. The peloton did 51 Kilometers during the first hour and one attack was followed by the next as there are also many young riders who are very motivated and aggressive. But after a while a 2 man break away made it and reached a gap of 7 minutes until the pack started to bring them back. But road racing is not a kind of mathematics where you can always calculate everything, as there are so many influences why things are as they are. Road racing is such a complex sport and we all love this pure kind of sports. In the end the two guys could take a couple of seconds to the finish and fought among themselves for the victory. But behind them the “real race” went on. Sprint preparations, positons and fighting for every centimeter. That is what it is about when the pack arrives to the finish line.
And the Stradalli – BIKE AID boys did so well today. It needs a lot of teamwork to be successful as a rider. And especially in the sprint you need to rely on your team mates, when you ride alongside your competitors with couple of millimeters of distance, speeding up to 70 kph and fighting with all you have. Horrible when you think about all that. But the last kilometer nobody really takes this in mind. And today it was Nikodemus Holler who brought the guys in position and Joschka Beck was leading Patrick Lechner out to the final sprint. One by one they all did a good job and just a crash in front of them avoided more. Patrick sprinted to 4th place of the pack and reached 6th place on stage result!
Great job and well done guys! Keep it up
Photo credits: INPHO/Morgan Treacy, INPHO/Ryan Byrne