Rás: Stages 1 & 2

Stage one was a 68km circuit race passing through Sneem Village four times. As the first day of any stage race, a bit nervy. Helen was very unfortunate to puncture at the start of the stage, but a testament to her strength (both of legs and of character!), she barely lost any time on the bunch (unbelievable!!) Siobhan was going for mountain primes, with a lot of help from our resident train Elise and a little help from me, Louise. Elise attacked. A lot!! I attacked. A few times.

But no go, nothing was let away and it came down to a sprint finish. I tried to lead Elise out but it was very hectic and not a little scary so unfortunately our efforts came to nought. Though gotta be happy that we all stayed upright! With Lydia also safely in the bunch. The girl who won the stage, Femke from my old Dutch team, had fallen off earlier in the stage so fantastic effort to go on to win and take the first pink jersey of the race.

Podium: top 3 on stage plus jersey winners with Nicola and Louis of Sneem Hotel

Next up was that afternoon’s time trial, 3.4km uphill … Look Mum did well, with Helen in the hot seat for quite a while. Our positions were 3rd (Lydia), 7th (Louise), 16th (Siobhán), 18th (Helen) and 27th (Elsie, as she would from now on be known … the results sheet people just wouldn’t listen!) … fantastic ride by Lydia which effectively set her up for the week. I’m quite certain that Elise and Helen would also have been vying for podium if their legs hadn’t had quite such an excellent warm-up ( / hammering!) on that morning’s stage!

Both the pink and blue jerseys changed ownership after the time trial – with Clare Dallat the time trial winner taking both, though I got to wear the blue (county leader) jersey as a rider cannot wear two jerseys. Siobhán at this stage was sitting pretty in joint second spot in the QOM competition, ready to pounce on the big Healy Pass stage, day 2 ….


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