The opening road race of the club league saw the two front groups show their strength to stay away and swamp the placings in the hunt for the win. Robbie Dolan and Mark Holland were the ultimate victors, but all who shared the load should be proud of their efforts.

The rain held off all evening, for a three laps of the lakes affair, clocking up roughly 40km. For a difference, and to alleviate the usual inconvenience to locals at the regular finish line, the chequered flag was instead situated at Threecastles tower house between Manor Kilbride and the bottom of Red Lane.

The Semi-scratch group were let off first, with all 13 riders in the group all working together at a lung busting pace from the get go, starting with a 2'30" handicap over a smaller Scratch group. The lead group kept working well until the second lap when a break formed. These six riders went on to contest the win, ending the race still with a minute over their pursuers. Once they got a gap on the rest of Semi-scratch, they kept up a harder pace to extend their lead over all chasers, until the sharp left turn towards the end of the final lap saw the cohesion break down.

The pace knocked off a bit and the group started to look at each other to see who was going to attack. Bernard English put in a couple of short attacks but they were chased down by Freddie Stevens and the rest of the group. Stevens counter-attacked with about 600m to go but was also caught, and then Ken O'Neill attacked at about 300m to go on the last bend before the finish line at the castle. The whole group sprinted to catch him, with Stephens, English and Barry Dace alert to the danger and following close on his wheel. A surging John Sower just passed O'Neill, but it was Mark Holland who just took it on the line with a commanding display.

That follows his third round win in Corkagh Park, and precipitated his first open win in Dunsany on Saturday. The organiser on the night declined to upgrade any of the placers, but we expect to see them in Semi-scratch before long!

In the second race of the night, a similar scenario played out. Fed up of being caught by their Semi-Limit tormentors at Corkagh and going home wondering what could have been, the Limit group that took off was determined to stay away or go down fighting. After a ragged start, they were eventually whipped into shape by Ann Horan and Richard Cattle, settling into a solid rhythm of up and overs, soundtracked by grunts and roars. And maybe a little swearing.

Still, whatever the methods, the result was that the group averaged a tad over 40km/h for the first two laps. Indeed, by the end of the race, they'd actually managed to gain time on their pursuers. The various strong legs in Semi-limit failed to get organised enough to work together properly, with the chase breaking down frequently.

Multiple semi-digs off the front by Garrett Connolly and Kilian Doyle kept the group on their toes, many of them reeled in by break-crushers Dan Coulcher and James Crisp. It wasn’t until the last lap that the attackers started flying off the front with actual notions of staying away, most notably Luke 'Socks' Potter, whose strong kamikaze downhill attack with 2km to go got everyone worried.

The bunch came back together at the final sharp turn and it looked for all the world like it'd be a bunch gallop until Doyle launched a brave attack a few hundred metres out. He managed to pull out a smidgeon of a gap before fading badly in the last 50 metres, watching helplessly as five other riders sprinted past him to the line. Robbie Dolan bested Cattle in the fight for 1st, with Eoin Byrne rounding out the podium.

A controversial placing by Damien Long after he took a lap out following an earlier alleged puncture mechanical was disallowed by the race organisers, leaving Stephen Rowan to claim 4th ahead of the ever-improving Doyle. Connolly earned the final points.

Sadly for Connolly, who timed his sprint perfectly to finish seventh and thus avoid any chance of a dreaded upgrade ahead of the Sallygap race, Long's disqualification left him 6th and among those rewarded for their strong riding with a promotion to Semi-limit. Hard luck Gar!

Particular kudos must go to Dolan for having the temerity to win his first road race and Byrne for displaying a calmness that belies his young years. Chapeau Team Limit!

Thanks to Mark Holland and Kilian Doyle for this week's reports!


Orwell League R6: Brittas RR (7/5/2015)

1 Robbie Dolan (L)
2 Richard Cattle (L)
3 Eoin Byrne (L)
4 Stephen Rowan (L)
5 Kilian Doyle (L)
6 Garret Connolly (L)

1 Mark Holland (SS)
2 John Sower (SS)
3 Ken O'Neill (SS)
4 Freddie Stevens (SS)
5 Barry Dace (SS)
6 Bernard English (SS)