Best county rider Maes on what harder Rás is like for Irish amateurs

Posted on: May 27th, 2017

Best county rider Richard Maes on what Rás is like for Irish amateurs

Best county rider Richard Maes on what Rás is like for Irish amateurs

Richard Maes made a visit to the podium today at the end of stage seven at the An Post Rás. The Killarney CC man was ninth across the line after having quite an eventful day on the 167-kilometre stage from Donegal to Ardee. 

 

By Brian Canty

Richard Maes took his best ever result at the An Post Rás today when he sprinted in ninth at the end of the rain-soaked 167-kilometre stage from Donegal to Ardee.

The Killarney CC man, who was 10th on stage 2 last Monday, got the best county rider award today.

And it’s an all the more impressive achievement given he had mechanical trouble for much of the stage.

Not halfway in and he lost the use of his rear derailleur which restricted him to the 11-tooth sprocket on the back.

It meant he could only use two gears; the 53×11, or the 39×11. And that made for one hectic afternoon for him.

“In the first 10k we hit a climb that wasn’t even in the book but 70 went out the back, it was absolutely full gas,” he reflected on another helter-skelter day.

“There was tailwind all day so the pace was really high but I found it okay. My legs felt absolutely savage to be honest, not once did I get sore.”

That was just as well because at the 50 kilometre point things went very wrong.

 

Richard Maes on the podium today and battling the gradient in stage 1 of this An Post Rás.

 

“At the 50k mark my Di2 packed up and I was stuck in the 11,” he said of his mishap.

“I got off and fiddled with cables but nothing happened. So I called for a spare bike.

“But there was a split in the bunch and the team car was behind that so I just rode back into the group with the 11!”

Maes, a former national A3 champion and Suir Valley stage winner, was forced to either spin or grind the gears all day as he tried frantically to get them functioning.

“Coming out of towns I’d be in the small ring and then go into the big ring and I’d lose my spot in the lineout. I’d go from 130 rpm down to 80-90 and it tore the legs off me!”

But he stayed in the group which thinned down as the kilometres wore on.

“I was clicking buttons all day trying to get it to work and an hour later at 5k to go it jumped into the 23 sprocket!

“I was going out the back and it went straight back to the 11 so I said I’d leave it alone.

“I darted up the outside, went up the front of the group and I took the sprint up with 500 metres to go because I couldn’t kick in the 11 (53×11).”

At that point he actually thought he was going for the win because he thought the break had been reeled in while he was down the back.

“I didn’t know if there was anyone up the road. All I could see was motorbikes and open road ahead of us.”

Alas, five had already contested the stage which meant he was sprinting for sixth.

“I was winding up for 500 metres. I was first to take up the sprint but three came around me in the end…”

Still, it was a really strong display and his second top 10 of the week after finishing 10th in Newport on Monday.

“It’s definitely harder than last year, there’s been no easy racing this year.

“This year isn’t controlled at all, I dunno are there more stronger teams? And the GC is so close as well; but there are a lot more Irish guys able to race harder as well.

“This time last year we didn’t have that many in the top 10 every day. This year we had three or four. Matt Teggart getting yellow was class as well from an Irish perspective.

“I think to make a stab at the GC you need to be full-time. I had a good week and even if I didn’t have a bad day I’d still only be in the 40s.

“Small things like going back for bottles hurt. Last year there was a lull and you could go back but this year guys seems to be attacking when you go back

“You’re taking a risk going back for a bottle and then you have to ride at 50k an hour to get back in. Maybe I just need to rob some pro team’s bottle!”

 

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