Matthew Teggart’s Rás Diary – Stage 2 Longford to Newport
Today was tough. Everybody had thought that today would be a pan-flat easy stage, but it was anything but. I thought yesterday would be a harder day after the long day of travel and that I would have ridden into the race today, but it was harder today.
We had a nice surprise this morning when Kurt arrived down to breakfast with new pairs of Oakleys for all of us. However, early on in the stage Kasper turned around and his new glasses fell to the ground. He was tempted to turn around in the race and go back and get them. He was up near the front at the time though, so about 200 riders would have ridden over them at that stage.
We had a cross-head wind all day and we thought it would blow to bits a few times. That kept the pace high as everybody wanted to be at the front if it did split. I had a bit of bad luck today. I punctured when the pace was quite high but I had a quick wheel change from our mechanic Michel so I got back pretty quickly.
At one stage, there was a group up in front of us, and one of the Belgian guys did a massive turn to try and bring them back. He pulled over to get one of us to do a turn and I put in a big jump. It was on a drag and I was about 15 seconds down on the group.
I chased and just when I made it across, the race was stopped at a level crossing. I was raging! There were too many groups on the road and when the barrier went up, it was too chaotic to try and figure out what the gaps had been, so our advantage was gone.
We had no bottles for about 40kms today. We were lined out on the wrong side of the road when we passed our soigneurs. Later on, I saw an opportunity to get a bottle and asked one of the Aussies to let me out so I could grab it from a swannie.
I missed it though, and the bottle bounced off the Aussie guy’s head. He lost it, but I had to tell him it was an accident. One of the Madison team was laughing at the two of us shouting and the Aussie guy eventually calmed down when he realised it was an accident. Not nice getting a smack of a bottle at 40km/h though.
The winning break didn’t form until about 30kms to go. One of the break stayed clear to the finish with the bunch just a few seconds behind.
Tomorrow’s stage could be affected by crosswinds along the coast into Donegal. I’m not one of the big guys so it’s just about getting through the flat stages until we hit the hills in Donegal.