Darnell Moore dominates from front to take Shay Elliott Classic

Posted on: May 14th, 2017

Darnell Moore dominates from front to take Shay Elliott Classic

Darnell Moore dominates from front to take Shay Elliott Classic

Darnell Moore takes victory in the Shay Elliott having ridden in dominant fashion. It was a day when the younger generation once again showed they are taking over (Photo: Sean Rowe)


Darnell Moore (Caldwell Cycles) took his best win to date in the Shay Elliott Memorial in Wicklow today, soloing to victory four seconds clear of three other riders.

The Bangor competitor was part of the day’s long-distance breakaway, was clear alone for several kilometres after the Elliott/Drumgoff climb at Glenmalure and was strong enough to go clear once more after his recapture.

He responded to a move by Conn McDunphy (Lucan CRC) inside the final ten kilometres, bridging across with Angus Fyffe (Omagh Wheelers) with just over five kilometres to go.

He then surged again with about one kilometre remaining, going clear on the tough run up to the finish at Djouce.

Moore hit the line four seconds ahead of Fyffe, with Mark Dowling (Strata Velo) bridging across to beat McDunphy for third.

Aqua Blue Academy duo Sean Lacey and Matteo Cigala were fifth and sixth, seven and 29 seconds back respectively.

The latter won a sprint from his group, beating Chris McGlinchey (Chain Reaction), David Watson (Bikehouse), James Davenport (Strata Velo) and Paul McCarter (Donegal Bay).

“It was a hard day before the Rás, anyway,” Moore told stickybottle after the finish, making clear that the race was both a goal in itself and also a build-up to next week’s stage race.

“A group of us got away with about 35, 40 miles and then we just kept riding through.

“I got away just on the top of the climb. I got a bit of a gap and then only ever had about 20 seconds or so.

“I didn’t bury myself, I just kept riding steady hoping a few riders would come across. Then I got caught just on the top of a climb near Roundwood.”

Despite his time out front, he said that he wasn’t too fatigued due to the breather he got on the descent after the Elliott climb, and also because he rode steady when clear rather than digging in too much.

“I still felt all right after they caught me. I had a bit of a rest and then started riding through with them just trying to hold off the group behind.”

That group did eventually bridge, and McDunphy went immediately from chase mode to that of attacker.

“He just rode straight through us,” Moore said. “Angus Fyffe nipped across then. He is an Omagh lad too, so I jumped across with him.

“Conn tried to attack us a few times coming in the road and then I went with a kilometre to go. Luckily enough I had the legs. Things worked out all right, so I am happy enough.”

How it played out

The Shay Elliott Memorial’s status is both due to its reputation as one of the country’s hardest one day events and also because it is named after one of the country’s greatest-ever riders.

Elliott won stages in all three Grand Tours, finished second in the 1962 world championships, took third overall in the Vuelta a España the same year and was also the first Irishman to wear the yellow jersey of Tour de France race leader.

As was the case in other years, the race would pass by a memorial stone to him atop the Shay Elliott/Drumgoff climb.

Just after the drop of the flag, Moore’s Caldwell teammate Adam Armstrong and John Lynch (Kilcullen) attacked and were out front for several kilometres.

They were caught just before the Glen of the Downs, where Anthony Walsh (Aquablue) then surged clear. However the peloton closed him down on the descent into the glen.

Chris Reilly (Bohermeen) and Terry O’Malley (UCD) attacked heading out of Glen of the Downs but, once again, this didn’t get far.

The bunch was still together at Kilpeddar, where Javan Nulty (North Down) took the prime. There were plenty of attacks afterwards, but nothing stuck.

On the road from Rathnew to Rathdrum, nine riders slipped clear. They had ten seconds after 26 kilometres of racing, but everything was back together by Glenealy.

However another group clipped away after approximately 35 kilometres, just before the descent into Rathdrum. The intensity of the racing had split the peloton into three, with this then coming back into two big groups.

One rider then pushed ahead away soon after that but was still facing a headwind. He was reeled in, bringing things back to together at the front.

After 61 kilometres, coming into Meeting of the Waters for the first time, three riders had a gap. They were Moore, Clinton Mahony (MSL Mercedes Benz Giant Cork) and Nulty, and were soon joined by 14 others.

Those were James Davenport (Strata 3 Velo), Jody Wright (Phoenix CC), Paul McCarter (Donegal Bay CC), David Watson (Bikeworx), Keith Finn (Planet X), Stephen Murray (Strata 3 Velo), Ian Richardson (UCD), Sean Lacey (Aquablue), Mark Reilly (Lucan), Cian Delaney (Stamullen), Sean Yelverton (Panduit Carrick), Aureliusz Klus (Stamullen), Angus Fyffe (Omagh Wheelers) and Conor Devlin (Island Wheelers).

The group worked well together on the three laps of the circuit and opened a lead of a minute and a half.

After 100 kilometres there was a group of chasers one minute and 35 seconds back. Ten kilometres later, Mark Dowling (Strata 3 Velo), Chris McGlinchey (Chain Reaction Cycles), Conn McDunphy (Staggs Lucan) and Matteo Cigala (Aquablue) were closing up to the leaders, but were unable to make the junction before the start of the Shay Elliott/Drumgoff climb at Glenmalure.

Sean Lacey led the break onto the ascent. Richardson then pushed the pace, stretching things out, with others then taking over.

The chasers were still trying to bridge and could see the others just ahead, but were clocked at over a minute behind. The bunch, meanwhile, was one minute 40 seconds back.

Moore pushed ahead towards the top of the climb and built his advantage on the descent. With 123 kilometres covered he was 20 seconds ahead of six riders from the original break and riding strongly.

However four kilometres later those chasers caught him, making it seven out front. The additions were Davenport, Richardson, Fyffe, Lacey and Delaney.

Other riders were getting closer to the leaders, including Dowling, McDunphy, Cigala, McGlinchy and Klus, although the latter punctured out of the chase group.

Aware that the gap was closing and following a prompt from his team car, Lacey attacked at the 133 kilometre point. He was unable to break the elastic, though, with the others in that front group getting back to him.

The chasers had the break in view and were gradually inching closer. With 141 kilometres done they were 39 seconds back and trying to make the junction.

Soon afterwards they had this down to 24 seconds, and the long straights on the roads around the Roundwood reservoir gave them further encouragement. They finally bridged at kilometre 148.

One of those, Conn McDunphy (Lucan) attacked almost straight away. He led for a couple of kilometres but then, just before five kilometres to go, Fyffe and Moore bridged.

The latter had already been out alone for several kilometres but had the strength to go again, soloing to a superb victory and showing encouraging form before the An Post Rás.