By Mick Leonard
Today was another extremely hard day. It was probably the combination of the heat and it being the queen stage but it was a fight from the start. I would have loved a downpour as I was finding the heat unsustainable.
I rode most of the stage with the jersey completely open – not very aero but my only concern was staying cool to save me from blowing a gasket. I was seriously in the red. It took ages for the break to get established but I managed to get over the first KOH in the bunch.
On the second KOH, a gap formed at the top just before the marker and and a few lads managed to sprint up the last bit to get back onto the bunch. A thousand quid hanging out the back pocket of the lad in front wouldn’t have gotten me over any quicker.
We rode hard and tore down the descent and thankfully got back onto the few cars at the back and eventually into the bunch. At the bottom of that KOH, a lad had a spare bottle going and luckily I was in the right place to get my hands on it. I couldn’t believe my luck! All day I was on the verge of overheating, I even took off the mitts to try and cool down, I was actually contemplating shoving the gels up the sides of my shorts and ditching the jersey completely!
On the last KOH, a wheel was dropped somewhere and even though the bunch dangled in front at only a few hundred metres for quite a while, there was no getting back on – even at 55kmph into a headwind! This is all on top of the typical Rás lineouts left, right and centre throughout the stage.
As I try and rest the legs after yet another very hard day in anticipation of tomorrow, I’d like to thank (as would the other lads) the support we’ve received which has urged us on. It was great to see my girlfriend Aoife, who has been so patient over the last few months at the finish today along with her sister Roisin and mother Marie. It was great too to celebrate with Martin, Eugene and Paddy and read all the well wishes. The encouragement from everybody over the last week is great and its an honour to be flying the club colours.
I’d also like to thank the sponsor Jimmy Stagg of Stagg’s Cycles for supporting the team so we could have this opportunity. It’s been immense.
One final day to go. See ye in Skerries,