WEST Down Wheelers Josh Daly Competes at his first three day Rás Dhun na nGall.
Day one saw Josh tackle the first 32 mile stage which was described as fast and ferocious from the start with many riders being dropped in the first few miles as the peleton crested hills on the mountain roads to Frosses and on along the coast through Dunkineely and Bruckless.
As the race approached the first KOH it was the UCD riders who showed their aggression riding strongly at the front, Josh managed to stay in the bunch which were careful not to let gaps open for too long.
It was New Zealand junior Sean Hambrook (VCC Morteau) who took maximum points in both King of the Hills primes to seize the lead in the mountains classification. There were a number of attacks throughout the first stage but no break attempt managed to gain more than 20 seconds on Josh and the bunch.
The first day finished with Phoenix CC veteran Brian Stewart in the first yellow jersey of the 2012 edition of Rás Dhun na nGall when it finished at Ardara.
Coming into Ardara 99 riders were involved in the sprint for the line with Belfast’s Stewart edging out Cormac Clarke of the Cycling Ulster/Slane Cycles squad. Navan RC’s John Kenny was third just ahead of Marc Potts (Cycling Ulster/Slane Cycles) while Darragh Zaidan (VC Morteau) and Matty Blaney (North Down CC) completed the top six. Josh was well pleased with his first day as he crossed the line in the main bunch in about fortieth place.
Sean Hambrook from New Zealand seized the Yellow Jersey in this morning’s Time Trial stage of Ras Dhun na nGall.
Josh started his second day and stage two with a morning time trial stage, this was a tough time trial which took the riders along the mountain valley of An Abhainn Bui and then a steep climb at Lagunna.
In the afternoon Josh started stage three halfway down the leader board, the first half of the 50 mile stage on the roads around Glenties, Portnoo and Lettermacaward saw numerous attacks, then a nine strong breakaway formed round the half way stage, with a brave attempt Josh was unable to close the gap.
The final day and stage four saw Josh in the thick of the action right from the start with many of the attacks within the first five to six miles. As the race tackled the first KOH just outside Ardara on the road to Dunkineely a break developed comprising of Matty Blaney (North Down), Jonathon Gibson (U/A), Liam Blanchfield (Bray Wheelers), Ian Richardson (UCD), Cormac Clarke (Cycling Ulster – Slane Cycles), Thomas Faloon (Black Rose) among others. Missing from the group was the Yellow Jersey – New Zealand junior Sean Hambrook (VCC Morteau). While Josh was riding with the main bunch the move wasn’t ecpected so early into the stage. Josh dug deep but was unable to close the gap.
The break worked well together as the race progressed through Glenties and Portnoo building up a lead of over three minutes. Josh and the bunch began to claw back time as the race returned to Ardara before beginning the arduos ascent of Glengesh but it was much too late. Blanchefield and Clarke surged ahead in the final mile while the rest of the break was captured by the peleton with Clarke taking the stage victory. Hambrook finished third but was almost two minutes behind Clarke thus giving the Newry man the overall victory.
The members and committee of West Down Wheelers congratulate Josh on his brave effort on taking on for the first time such a tough race as the Rás Dhun na nGall.