95km, narrow gravelly grassy roads and vicious climbs
Stage 5 was to be a make or break stage. This would be the case for each rider and each team in the race. For Look Mum this was the day the plan did not work. We took the most positive approach we could. Helen and Elise were to take ‘suicide rides’ and once delivered Louise and I would take jerseys and the stage. The atmosphere among team members was an extraordinarily positive and ambitious one. We would aim for everything and give the race every bit of energy we had to achieve our very best.
From the beginning all four team members took to the front. The race was neutralised for the first 4.5km to keep the bunch together over this first hill. We were ready as soon as the car pulled away and pounced. Elise and Helen took turns driving a hard pace. Very early on we turned onto narrow roads only allowing two riders abreast. The aggressive start from Helen and Elise put Louise and I in prime positions ready for the challenges ahead.
‘The Ballaghs’ began after the first 20km. These are two category 1 climbs with an unforgiving surface and a gradient that would split and break the bunch for the race. I lost precious mountains points over these two climbs and Louise lost position. It was not our day.
Later in the race I took first position over the last hill prime regaining some points in the mountains competition. I felt defeated after crossing the finish line. When Louise and Elise arrived, Elise smiled and gathered us in. Louise gave me a warm jacked and later we learned that Helen, having done her part for the team was helping other dropped riders over the last climbs and home.
On Stage 5 we didn’t get the results we wanted but what a performance. We had aimed for the highest and done everything we could. Surrounded by such a warm and positive team I really was enjoying the Rás more and more. I took the County Jersey for the day and we thought we were done.
Unfortunately later on we were informed that commissaires were penalizing me one minute and the mountains points gained as I had ‘left my line’ during the sprint for the final hill prime. The decision could not be reversed. Now the challenge was greater than ever. The Mountains Jersey and County Jersey were gone. We would have to find a positive and aggressive plan for our final race day.