National Series Round 5: Currow, Co Kerry

Round 5 of the National Series was on a fast circuit in Kerry with one long drag and a short sharper hill on each lap. There was a steady crosswind on the drag, but it wasn't strong enough to be decisive.

In the women's race, a strong group of 5 broke away early, including Yvonne Doran and Carthach McCarthy (now racing with Blarney, but she was with Orwell for a couple of years, so we will claim her!). Yvonne couldn't quite hold the group as Imogen Cotter forced the pace and broke away for a solo victory. Yvonne rode solo for the last 15km for a strong 5th place, consolidating her position in the series.

From the cars, the men's race looked like it was set for a big bunch at the finish. The initial break of five never got more than 45 seconds up the road, and with long straight roads they were in sight most of the time. The hill just didn't seem long enough or hard enough to split the field, and in the first three of five laps there were under a dozen riders dropped. The front of the race was hugely active, with riders popping off the front in small groups all the time, but they were never let escape. 

It wasn't until the fourth lap when tiredness kicked in: three of the initial breakaway riders gave up the fight, and Conn McDunphy (series leader, Lucan) broke away to join them. Shortly after, at the start of the 1km 4% drag that was the main hill each lap, Killian O'Brien (Junior series leader, Orwell) launched a big attack and just made it over to McDunphy before the top. The moto comm told me afterwards that when he reported the rider numbers in the breakaway to the chief commissaire, he asked him was he SURE there was a junior up there!

That group of four grew the gap to over 40 seconds as the fourth of five lap finished (unfortunately Ronan Grimes got a puncture at this point, and called it a day). The last time up the hill Conn and Killian attacked again and dropped the other two, adding another 30 seconds to the advantage over the main bunch, which was now splitting into smaller groups as the fatigue really set in.

The two series leaders rode strongly together until about 2km from the line, when McDunphy attacked. Killian couldn't hold his wheel and was running on fumes at this stage: Eoin Kelly (UCD) managed to close the gap to him with about 500m left, winning the two-up sprint for second. Still, extended lead in the series and a podium place in a National Series race for first year junior: pretty impressive ... all that time spent in Corkagh Park with Dave Mc, Jen McLoughlin and Stephen Ryan is starting to bear fruit!

You can watch Killian's interview with Cycling Ireland here.

Bob Crilly Classic

Meanwhile up north there was another set of races going on, with the hilly Bob Crilly Classic. Joe-Nathan Matar rode a storming A3 race and was just pipped on the line, with the two riders well clear of the field. Great for Joe to get a result after all his recent strong riding.