Rás na mBan from behind the steering wheel

LMNH: A D.S.’s Account

Myself (Ger Madden of Fixx Rouleur) and Tim (O’Regan of D.I.D. Dunboyne, when not hanging out in Sneem currently living the dream in Belgium) had the honour of managing Look Mum No Hands at Rás na mBan 2012. Louise, Helen and Siobhan, 2011 contestants and Elise, first time( but not soft)
This was our second time to manage the LMNH ladies team. Last year it was a case of First time around for all of us, for the riders except Louise it was their first 5 day stage race and for myself and Tim our first time managing a team. So we came into the race with a bit more self confidence and more expectation from what we would like the team to achieve.
From the beginning we encouraged the team to race from the start and to make an impression early on and most importantly to make friends in the bunch. Straight away on stage 1 the team delivered,on race radio we were to hear the same message again and again”Look Mum No Hands are at the front of the bunch controlling the pace”.
Helen was unfortunate to puncture very early in the stage and tried really hard to make it back to the bunch but the pace at the front never let up. The stage finished in a Bunch Gallop with Louise, Siobhan and Elise finishing as part of the main pack. Stage 1 down and everyone has made it through.
Now for the most important stage, The Charity Ladies race where all contestants had to be or dress like Ladies so Louise supplied myself and Tim with some of her finest short skirts and tights and tops(there may be Photographic evidence of our efforts  if you know where to look)
Stage 2 was a 3.3 kilometre TT and from the beginning our team made the pace with Helen holding the fasted time of the early starters until Siobhan went better to overtake Helen and was matched by Louise by a slightly better time. Eventually Siobhan and Louise would finish in the top 6.
This set us up for Stage 3 over the Healy and Caha passes. At the team meeting that evening  we discussed various race scenarios and planned to have all the team ride hard over the first QOH of the day to set up Louise and Siobhan for the Healy pass, Helen and Elise were a revelation here, doing what we knew they were capable of. Siobhan attacked half way up the Healy pass and was joined by another rider and they rode over the top of the QOH and starting the break which included Louise and another 10 riders, this was to be the main break of the day with the bunch falling behind as the break raced towards the Caha pass and on towards the finish in Kenmare.With Siobhan picking up points on the 3 QOH and the GC positions of the riders in the break, a second place on the stage for Louise and the County jersey and the Mountains  jersey for Siobhan, LMNH a fine reward for positive team riding.
During the stages myself and Tim made notes of various situations the developed during the race each day to bring to the team meetings that would be missed by the riders as they happen, sometimes it is easy to see the race develop from the comfort of the car that may not be apparent to the riders.
The next day, stage 4 brought the race to Valencia and a chance to consolidate our position as we maintained our position holding the 2 Jerseys at the end another tough day finishing with a fast and furious Bunch Gallop.
Stage 5, The Queen stage-“The Ballaghs” This was going to be the defining stage of Ras na mBan 2012. At the start one of the other team managers’ suggested that we would take over the race leadership. An indication of how well the other teams’ viewed how good our team was riding. From the beginning of the stage the bunch was thinning out because of the terrain that was a feature of this stage, roads that were undulating and narrow in the lead up to the first QOH at Ballaghbeama. Over the QOH the decisive break of the day formed and Siobhan was there among some of the other race contenders including the race leader and the main contender to Siobhan’s Mountains jersey. Louise was not in the move so Siobhan now had a chance of taking the County Jersey also.
Over the first 2 QOHs at Ballaghabeama and Ballaghasheen, Siobhan only scored 1 point and was now likely to lose the jersey to her main contender. The break kept a fast pace throughout and pulled away from the bunch putting minutes between them. On the approach to the final climb at Coomaciste the chief judge adjudged that Siobhan sprinted for the line in a irregular fashion and the penalty for this(Irregular Sprint) was a one minute penalty and omission from the final QOH prime. 4th place on the stage before everything changed.  All of a sudden 2 potential jerseys were taken away unfairly in my opinion, we appealed this harsh decision but were dismissed out of hand. The harsh reality of bike racing that changes fortunes in an instant.
As the leaders were racing to the finish, Helen was encouraging riders who were struggling up the final climb at Coomaciste, dropping back from her group to help others along. A gesture that was not lost on the same team manager from the start of the stage who  was impressed by our attitude throughout the race.
And so to the final stage a short stage  to Kenmare,over Moll’s Gap and back to Sneem. Although we lost our 2 jerseys LMNH rode the same positive race that was a feature all week with Elise finally believing in her ability, attacking out of the bunch on the way to Kenmare, cresting Moll’s Gap with the bunch and driving the bunch towards the finish and leading Louise out for a fine 3rd place on the stage.
Overall, 7th place for Siobhan and 10th place for Louise a fine result.
A testament to all the team’s efforts, is that whenever LMNH turn up at a race, the opposition know that they will have ride hard to beat Look Mum No Hands.
For next year, I would expect LMNH to be contesting for the Overall title at Rás na mBan 2013.
Ger.
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