Posted by: Helen
Ras na mBan – Stages 3 & 4
It’s time for the next instalment of Team LDN’s Ras na mBan adventures, covering the queen stage, hilly ITT and thoughts ahead of the penultimate stage – the spectacular Saturday evening crit.
Queen stage (Friday) – stage 3
Key stats: 112km, with 3x QOH climbs – the first 2 not too significant, but the 3rd is the monster 7km Mount Leinster with ramps of 20%, providing photographers plenty of opportunity to get some great race gurns
So with some of the team feeling a little sore from Thursday’s slips and not quite in the full spirits we have come to expect, it was down to @coachwatto’s wonderful playlist (60s jive music) and overflowing enthusiasm to brighten the mood, and brighten the mood it did.
Today it was Kerry’s turn to shine. We always backed our mountain goat on today’s stage, and the plan was for Helen, Fran, Kerry to keep attacking around 70-80km in, 20km before the final climb, with the hope that at least one would get in the decisive break. However, it only took Kerry one attempt and she was away!
After some positive encouragement from Fran, Kerry did a little sprint, and got a gap. No-one followed, so initially Kerry wasn’t so sure, but ultimately thought, ‘who cares?’ and ended up powering away from the bunch and holding a solo break for 6km! It was epic to see the Team LDN colours out in front and when she was finally reeled in, it sparked off a number of other attacks, which the rest of the team followed and marked as planned.
In the end, a large peloton of about 80 reached the bottom of Mount Leinster together, where the real ‘fun’ began. The GC contenders set a fierce pace from the bottom and it was a bit of a scramble weaving around riders who’d completely blown. My highlight was seeing 2 of my teammates, Kerry and Fran, about halfway out when the lights were going out fast! In the end we all finished with very respectable places, Fran, Kerry and Helen 2’45 down on the winner (Nikki Juniper) around 40th on the stage and Gina, only 1’ further back. I found myself rather exhausted, but was well-looked after by the rest of the girls, who basically picked me up and put me in the car.
Hilly ITT – stage 4
Key stats: 6.4km, with 5 ramps of around 10%, on a twisty Irish country lane
The goals for the team were slightly split.
– The aim for Fran and Helen, who were sitting in 38th and 40th on GC, and whilst both respectful powerhouses, neither would claim to being the mountain goats that this course was designed for, was to limit any time loses
– The aim for Kerry and Gina, who after their Stage 1 time losses, were looking to each stage as a new opportunity, was simply to get the best result they can
Kerry was off first and set a great time of 15.34, holding the virtual hot seat for quite some time. Helen came in at a similar time, and Fran really smashed it, finishing in 15.20 and 31st for the stage, with Gina getting her top result so far, of 71st.
New GC positions are: Fran 39th @ 4’28”; Helen 41st @ 4’45”; Gina 77th; Kerry 80th.
Saturday crit – stage 6
Key stats: 3 neutral laps, 45mins + 3 laps, finishing after a sharp right-hander, on to some cobbles, and in front of the castle. 75% chance of rain.
…. to be determined …