Ryan Sherlock takes the opening stage in the A1/A2 race
By Brian Canty
Ryan Sherlock (Cycleways) has won the opening stage of the Mullingar Two-Day today, Saturday, after he outsprinted DID Dunboyne duo Fiachra O’Mhuire and Timmy O’Regan on the slightly uphill drag to the finish in Crookedwood, Co Westmeath.
The trio were part of the day’s 11-man break that forged clear of the peloton on the 140km stage before fighting it out for the win between themselves.
And it is defending champion Sherlock who will be the odds-on favourite to defend his title going into tomorrow morning’s time trial over 3.3 kilometres which is followed by a 90-kilometre afternoon trek.
Robin Kelly (Waterford Racing CC) led in the remnants of the break today for fourth place, just over a minute and a half back. But the day belonged to Sherlock who combined strategy with strength for a fine win.
Sherlock said he was delighted to get another win after some recent near misses.
“It’s been frustrating but I felt great today all day. It’s a shame the TT tomorrow isn’t a bit longer but I seem to have good legs anyhow so we’ll just wait and see how it pans out.”
Today it panned out perfectly for the tall Monaghan man and he was aggressive from the outset, as was local man Damian Shaw who notched a second place the night previous at the National Criterium Championships – apparently showing no ill-effects from a brilliant ride at the national championships last Sunday.
Shaw had been in an early move with Kelly, O’Mhuire and O’Regan today and they gained some 30 seconds before Shaw punctured and was caught and passed by the bunch but eventually got back on. He then rode three of the four laps but decided to pull out on the final lap; the exertion of riding ‘up and over’ with Nicolas Roche a week previously and the effort of the crit championships on Friday night clearly catching up with him.
The remaining trio pushed on but were soon joined by eight more, with Sherlock, Aidan Crowley (DID Dunboyne) and Chris O’Reilly (Bohermeen) among those who forged their way into what was now the day’s 11-man escape.
“We all rode pretty steady actually,” explained Sherlock.
“There was no dashes off the front and it just worked well. There was a bunch of DID guys in there and that helped us build a decent advantage.”
On the last lap, however, the fireworks started with Crowley trying his luck off the front a few times. But Sherlock was equal to each move. That paved the way for O’Regan and O’Mhuire to try their luck, but again Sherlock was equal to each foray.
Then, with less than seven kilometres remaining, the elastic eventually snapped and Sherlock himself took off, with O’Mhuire and O’Regan jumping on him and working together initially.
“But then the lads just stopped riding through and were content to sit on,” said Sherlock.
“So I tried a few times myself to get away because I wasn’t sure how much of a gap we had.”
O’Regan suddenly put the hammer down and took a flier off the front with two kilometres remaining but Sherlock responded again and with 300 metres to go he went full gas over a slight rise, distancing himself from O’Regan, but with O’Mhuire still staying doggedly with him.
But he couldn’t come around Sherlock and that’s how it finished, with O’Regan losing four seconds in third and the eight men next over the line losing 1:34.
The A3 race was an equally absorbing affair with Marcel Kock (Phoenix CC) showing some terrific form to win on his own by 36 seconds after getting away solo on the final lap. Next over the line was Eric Downey (Orwell Wheelers), with Keith Johnston (Lakelands Wheelers) leading in the bunch nine seconds behind him.
The A4 race saw two stages completed today, with Colmán De Búrca (Bohermeen CC) taking the afternoon road race in a bunch sprint ahead of some 78 riders with Neil Butler (Marble City) second and Colin Lynch (Lakeside Wheelers) in third.
De Búrca then lost the leaders’ jersey following this evening’s time trial after Cathal O’Gorman blasted to victory over the tight 3.3 kilometre test in 5 minutes 18 seconds; two seconds ahead of Ben Delaney (Wexford Wheelers) with the aforementioned Butler in third a further three seconds back.
The result was enough to see that trio take over at the top of the general classification.
In the women’s race, Mel Spath (Cycleways) is the woman they must all beat in tomorrow’s stage. She finished second in this afternoon’s road stage to promising Irish Development rider Amy Brice but scorched to a stunning win in the time-trial, recording a time of 5 minutes 21 seconds – which would have earned her third in the A4 men’s race.
Spath now leads Ann Dalton on GC by 31 seconds with Roisin Kennedy (ESB) in third at 35 seconds.
The race concludes tomorrow with a 3.3 kilometre time trial and road race for the A1/A2 and A3 riders, while the A4’s and women have just the road race to contend with. That is a 90 kilometre lumpy road stage.
In total, over 220 riders signed on for the full programme of racing; a healthy number and ringing endorsement of the popularity of the sport at the present time.
Sherlock said afterwards that the organisers, Lakeside Wheelers, can take a bow for handling such a logistically difficult event.
“I won this race last year but one thing I remarked on then was how they handled the race and I have to say the same again this year. I knew they’d put on a great race and they have and that was why myself and Mel decided to come down to it.”
Colmán De Búrca takes the A4 opening stage
Amy Brice takes the women’s road stage ahead of Mel Spath
A3 winner Marcl Kock
1) R Sherlock (Cycleways)
2) F O’Mhuire (DID Dunboyne) @s/t
3) T O’Regan (DID Dunboyne) @4secs’
4) R Kelly (Waterford Racing CC) @1’34’
5) A Crowley (DID Dunboyne) @s/t
6) C Sweetman (Stamullen M Donnelly) @s/t.
1) M Kock (Phoenix CC)
2) E Downey (Orwell Wheelers) @36secs;
3) K Johnston (Lakelands) @45secs;
4) A Engerman (St Tiernan’s) @s/t
5) C Campbell @s/t;
6) D O’Farrell (Garda CC/Richies Bikes) @s/t.
1) C De Búrca (Bohermeen CC)
2) N Butler (Marble City CC) @3secs;
3) C Lynch (Lakeside Wheelers) @s/t
4) P Smyth (DCU) @s/t
5) R Farrell (Donamon Dynamos) @s/t;
6) R Lenihan (Lakeside Wheelers) @s/t.
Stage 2 TT
1) C O’Gorman (Dublin Wheelers) 5’18”.
2) B Delaney (Wexford Wheelers) @2secs
3) N Butler (Marble City) @ 5sces.
Overall GC after 2 stages
1) C O’Gorman (Dublin Wheelers)
2) B Delaney (Wexford Wheelers) @3secs
3) N Butler (Marble City) @5secs
4) E O’Mahony (Orwell Wheelers) @8secs;
5) K O’Connell (Covey Wheelers) @11secs
6) D Creighton (Blanch Wheelies) @ 11secs.
1) A Brice (Irish Development)
2) M Spath (Cycleways) @s/t
3) A Dalton (Irish Development)
4) E Walsh (Dungarvan)
5) R Kennedy (ESB)
6) G Gill @19secs
1) M Spath (Cycleways) 5.21
2) A Dalton (Irish Development) @31secs
3) R Kennedy (ESB) @35secs
1) M Spath (Cycleways)
2) A Dalton (Irish Development) @31secs
3) R Kennedy (ESB) @35secs
4) A Brice (Irish Development) @38secs;
5) E Walsh (Dungarvan) @40secs
6) G Gill @1min 16secs.