John McCarthy of Aquablue – seen here on stage 1 of the Wexford Two Day on Saturday – put in a race-winning move on the final stage on Sunday to take the overall win in the main event of the weekend, the A2&A3 race (Photo: Amy Norah Farrell)
By Brian Canty
John McCarthy has had very little to celebrate on the bike this year but that all changed at the weekend when the Aquablue man won the A2&A3 Wexford Two Day in convincing fashion. Making a return to the sport after a number of years away, he went into the final stage in the top 10 on general classification, some 30 seconds off the yellow jersey.
He may not have been one of the most-watched riders on Sunday’s hilly 110 kilometre third and final stage, but as soon as he attacked with two laps, or around 50 kilometres, remaining he wasn’t seen again before the finish.
His attack was blistering and only Barry Horgan of Tralee BC Manor West, who won Saturday evening’s hill climb time trial stage, could stay with him.
Prior to that decisive attack there was a period of sustained aggression and to give credit to the yellow jersey wearer at the time Eoin Greene, he did little wrong.
So when McCarthy put the hammer down on the steepest section of the climb, the Iverk Produce Carrick Wheelers race leader was out of steam. And by the time the peloton crested the summit, McCarthy and Horgan were gone up the road with Richie Barry (St Finbarr’s) and Kevin Hayes (Ballymore CC).
And that proved the winning of the race.
“You could see there wasn’t much happening and everyone was chasing everyone at the time,” McCarthy said.
“Even Eoin (Greene) didn’t have to do a lot of the chasing down. So it was just two steep hills one after another and you were going to get away if you attacked hard enough.”
“It worked out perfectly when I went because there were four up the road and one or two out front dangling. Myself and Barry (Horgan) went and rode across to Richie Barry and Kevin (Hayes).”
That quartet then closed the gap to a small breakaway that had gone clear earlier.
“There were seven or eight of us riding together as a group,” said McCarthy of the men out front coming together.
“Then when four more came across the pace went up dramatically. It split then on the main road and it was the four of us away and then three by the end of the main road after one rider was dropped.”
“A lad from Wexford let the wheel go and that caused the split. The other lads were slow about bridging and as soon as the split happened, that was it. We smashed it up the next drag, and once they weren’t organised behind I knew they wouldn’t catch us going hell for leather. I think we put a lot of time into everyone going up the drag.”
“Tosh Lavery came up to us (on a motorbike) and gave us a time gap. I knew we had quite a bit of a gap but you just never know.”
McCarthy said the men he was with – Brian Hart of Limerick and Martin Gill of Wexford rode very well.
“Martin did some very big turns, Brian was a bit more cagey, and it obviously paid off for him because he won the stage. I led it out for the last 1,500 metres or so, I wanted to be sure I had the win. And they came around me then for first and second.”
“I was a little surprised to win overall to be honest because I was bad on Saturday. I couldn’t breathe properly or take a deep breath. I almost collapsed after the finish, even though I was only sprinting for 13th place.
He added despite finishing 3rd in the stage 2 time trial on Saturday evening he had not felt good.
“I knew I wasn’t getting the most out of my lungs. But I started to feel better (on Sunday) and knew I’d be able to put the power down if I came good.”
“On the main road I felt so strong. I was confident then when I got away, I felt very, very good. So I’m delighted. It just goes to show what can happen in a race, Martin or Brian were further down on GC than me but when you’re in a race where there aren’t teams, it’s wide open and anything can happen.”
Stafford Wholesale Wexford Two Day (A2&A3)
August 17th & 18th, promoted by Wexford Wheelers
Results in brief for all three stages and final overall
Saturday 17th, stage 1, 80km
|2||Martin Cashman||Un att|
|3||Pierre De Leaster||Waterford Racing|
|4||Dave O Connor||Park Wheelers|
Saturday 17th, evening Hill Climb Time Trial
|2||Eoin Greene||Iverk Produce|
Sunday 18th, stage 3, 110km
|2||Martin Gill||wexford Wheelers|
Final General Classification
|3||Martin Gill||Wexford Wheelers|
|7||Brian Cullen||Barrow Wheelers|