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Flying Michael O’Loughlin (20) on his big milestone in this Rás

Posted on: May 27th, 2017

Flying Michael O’Loughlin (20) on his big milestone in this Rás

Flying Michael O'Loughlin (20) on his big milestone in this Rás

Michael O’Loughlin piles the pressure on scaling Mamore Gap. He sounds full of confidence and is having a fantastic Rás so far (Photo: Toby Watson)

 

By Shane Stokes

With just two stages remaining Michael O’Loughlin in 9th overall and leads the U23 general classification.

The Team Wiggins man from Carrick-on-Suir has said while took him a few days to get a handle on the race he has been very happy with how it has gone.

Though regretting missing the winning escape on stage 3, he said his the team pursuits in his squad has proven adept at dictating the race.

That was especially so leading into the foot of Glengesh Pass yesterday.

“The stage was probably the worst-looking, profile-wise,” he said of the trek into Donegal with seven climbs to contend with.

“You could tell that everybody was apprehensive in the first few kilometres,” he noted, adding the wind combined with the climbing made for very hard racing.

“Nineteen kilometres in there was a right hander. It was really open there; a full-on crosswind,” he explained.

“Andy Tennant and Chris Latham from our team went to the front and just lit it up. They really put the hammer down.

“As team pursuit riders, they can really go. Myself and Joey Walker rolled through to keep things ticking over.

“And then a few other teams joined in and it split to bits behind. It was good to see. The guys kept it rolling into the bottom of Glengesh, they did a great job. “

However, once the racing hit the climb O’Loughlin said the wind dampened the action.

“There was a lot more headwind, then crosswind and tailwind. So it was quite hard to do anything on it.

“Plus you were a long way from the finish at Glengesh. So I was hoping that by the last few climbs there would be more opportunity to attack.

“But JLT controlled things pretty well and kept the speed up, so it was quite hard to get away,” he said of the team of race leader James Gullen.

 

Top, O’Loughlin with yellow jersey Matt Teggart, Team Ireland man Mark Downey and Ken Blanche before the start of Tuesday’s stage. Middle, in the chase group later that same day. Bottom, on the podium in the U23 classification jersey which he will wear for the fourth time today (Photos: Morgan Treacy and Ryan Byrne – Inpho)

 

In general terms, he said he went into this race hoping for a big result on at least one stage, on what is his maiden An Post Rás.

“I was hoping to try and get a stage win or top three on a stage,” he said. “But I’m happy to hold onto the white jersey anyway and see how the next two days go.

And while he was enjoying leading the U23 classification, his race had not been without some regret.

“I still haven’t forgiven myself for missing the move on stage three,” he said of the winning break on a day when he made the chase group instead.

“That will haunt me for a while, as I really wish I was there. Maybe if you look at the way things have panned out, I might be two or three places higher overall.

“(That) isn’t much of a difference, but maybe I would have raced differently in the last few days as well.

But considering how things went the first three day; (on), stage four, stage five, I went out and gave it a lash and things paid off.

“I think I’ve learned how to race the Rás now a bit. It took me a while to get into it, it is so different to any other race.

“I will definitely take the white jersey. It is the first race that I feel like I have been real competitive as a senior,” he said of what is a significant milestone in any young rider’s career.

“So I have been happy with that. Hopefully it continues.“

Taking stock of the year to date, he agreed with the suggestion his second year at U23 level had been marked by progression.

“I had a big block of racing at the start of the year, finishing up at the Tour of Croatia,” he said.

“Then I had no racing after the Tour of Croatia until this. I took an easy week after Croatia and then got a bit of training afterwards.

“Just as I was leading into this I felt like things were clicking. I don’t know if it was in my head or whatever.

“But I felt like I was ready to get in there and get stuck in racing at the front.

“I have a few under 23 races coming up as well, so it is nice to be racing at our level; get out there and give it a go.”

 

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