Last day “only” 133km to the seaside town of Skerries where we would finish with 3 laps of the traditional Blackhills circuit, with the steep aforementioned climb. At the end of the neutralised section it was very sedate and we sipped champagne as we slowly covered the 90km to Skerries.
Eh back it up there, once the flagged dropped we hammered it and the pace didn’t let up all day. On the road to Skerries I was working hard to keep Ian up the bunch and out of trouble. A stressful and sapping role as you are constantly fighting to be close to the front. We had 2 climbs on the way and the legs where tired when we hit the circuit.
The crowd in Skerries was massive and first time up Blackhills the bunch whittled down. The speed was so high especially coming through the village and with the cheering crowd and shining sun it was some rush. Another ascent saw the bunch reduced further and the remains of the break just dangling off the front.
The final time up the climb the bunch did split and I came home in the second group a handful of seconds behind the yellow jersey. I had done it, become a “Man of the Ras”. The last stage was again crazy fast, hard and stressful, pretty much the theme of the week. However there was definitely a euphoric feeling upon crossing the line, especially knowing that Ian had kept his county jersey.
Overall the week was amazing, absolutely surreal how each day blended into one, while hotels stage towns, everything just all became a blur . The treatment was second to none by the UCD support crew. While they race like a team it is very much a club at heart and that drives their succeas. So many passionate members length a hand throughout the race and we had a lot of support on the last day. Noel, Brendan, Dee and Darragh treated us like royalty.
Many people ask is the Ras too hard for the county rider? No I think it isn’t, but it takes a few years of hard consistent training and racing to be able to finish it the bunch. A lot of guys jump in too soon and spend the week at the mercy of the chief commissar and the time cut off. Some years they are lenient on the 15% rule other years they are brutally strict. I don’t think a county rider can win it out right but as a few of them proved a stage is possible.
I would also like to thank An Post for awarding me their “Hero” award as the rider making the best use of social media during the race. It’s nice to know that somebody actually reads these blogs.