I spoke yesterday about my ‘rolly-tumbly’ that cost me 27 minutes on the opening day of the Rás. Our Manager wasted no time in telling me at the finish that he had bigger cuts inflicted from shaving.
Yesterday on the road from Dundalk to Carrick-on-Shannon, an unprecedented and unfortunate incident forced the second stage to be declared null and void. It’s the first time in the history of this great race that such measures had to be taken.
After 100 kilometres in more scorching temperatures there was a climb. Nothing too serious but four kilometres in length it was the perfect location for an ambush which surprise surprise, split the bunch into several groups. Nothing too earth-shattering in that.
However, with a steady descent afterwards and riders keen to catch the front group, risks were taken, corners were taken at breakneck speed. I learned minutes later where that term derived from, by the way.
An oncoming jeep ploughed straight into a chasing group, sending bikes and bodies in every direction.
It was ghastly. I arrived a couple of minutes later and knew something terrible had unfolded. “Stop, the race is stopped!” shouted the chief commissaire, waving his hands frantically at the same time.
Stop the race? I thought, this is odd. Seconds later the true horror of what happened became emblazoned in my mind. I saw a Kanturk man on the road but he was only offering his assistance and that was some relief. “Keep going, you don’t need to see that,” warned a few riders.
Then I saw the shattered windscreen of the jeep in question and buckled bikes strewn across the road and took their advice. Screams of pain and stretchers are all too often in cycling and it’s a sport with serious occupational hazards. When I hear of soccer players crying off injured prior to kick-off because of a ‘tweek’ or a ‘strain’ it angers me.
Following that the decision was taken to cancel the race as the race doctors had to accompany the stricken riders to the hospital and there were none left for the remaining riders-should another crash afflict the race. Protocol I’m told, but in 27 years of the FBD Insurance Rás, such a sanction was never taken.
At the time of writing I know one Spanish rider broke his leg while an Italian rider (with the Japanese Nippo team) lost a part of his finger but medics are optimistic he will be able to have it re-attached.
All I can say is thank God I was a few minutes back when the accident happened.
So the remaining 40 kilometres was little more than a training ride into Carrick-on-Shannon which was a shame because the huge crowds that turned out were looking forward to some entertainment. When the race was stopped there was a threatening break with a two-minute gap on the bunch and who’s to say they wouldn’t have stayed away? It matters not, as the results of Sunday’s opening stage will stand for tomorrow’s stage from Carrick-On-Shannon to Oughterard.
Speaking of which, we (the Kanturk Town Cork Team) expect a crazy Tuesday and the relative boost in morale that Monday offered won’t be with us long. Head-winds, terrible roads, a 150+ kilometre stage with a few categorised climbs will fragment the bunch to pieces.
At present I’m 138th on GC. Only 15 are worse than me but hopefully I can improve on this by the weekend. Luck will have more than a part in it as I've learned.