The weekend was a busy one despite the lack of a St Patrick's Day race, and a very successful one - with two top ten finishes and a magnificent 6th overall for Tom Blennerhassett in Rás Maigh Eo, and Philippe Bourdarias taking 4th on the final stage. In Slane, Orla Hendron stayed out of trouble in the women's race to take 4th, and Mark Mulcahy earned 5th in the A4s. Off-road, the club had two top ten finishes in Ticknock with Jamal Ahmed and Eric Downey.

First to the plain of the yew tree, where Tom Blennerhassett showcased his ambition and talent to take a magnificent 5th overall in the Rás Maigh Eo. Six Orwell riders headed west to take part in the three-stage, two-day event. Stage one on Saturday was an 88km road race, taking in a circuit to Achill Island in glorious sunshine.

The trio of Aidan Collins, Philippe Bourdarias and Neal Hudson were aggressive throughout, but only Collins reaped the rewards, scooping second in the first sprint prime. The stage was won by a break of four, with a further four riders coming in around 90” later. A group of nearly forty riders arrived at the 1'46” mark, and Blennerhassett laid down a marker by taking second in the bunch gallop, meaning a great 10th on the stage and on GC.

Blennerhassett taking 2nd in the bunch sprint (photo thanks to Pawel Sadowski of

All Orwell riders finished on the same time, apart from Nick Watson, who DNF-ed. He had taken to the starting line despite being sick with the flu, and was duly dropped after 15km. He cited the scenery of Achill as adequate consolation for his journey.

The second stage was an individual 7.75km time trial on Sunday morning. Blennerhassett's abilities in the race of truth are well known, as he is the current club 40TT Champion. He described the test as a tough one, with a block headwind coming in off the Atlantic, and pointed out that nobody averaged over 40kph despite a mostly downhill course.

Despite the conditions, Blennerhassett delivered an excellent performance, with only one rider able to surpass him, and only by the slender margin of 11”. That first place went to Jason Prendergast (Liquidworx-Fitscience), who has a number of race wins under his belt, emphasises the quality of Blennerhassett's achievement, which put Blennerhassett into a superb 5th overall heading into the final stage.

At the other end of the spectrum, Philippe Bourdarias was erroneously marked as final finisher after an extra 3' were incorrectly added to his time. Neal Hudson also suffered some frustration after stage 1, when his placing was not included in the published results.

The final 88km stage began over the TT course, and Aidan Collins resumed his aggression of stage one to once again contest the primes. He infiltrated break after break in search of the winning move, and was again successful in scoring points at the intermediate sprint points. Ultimately, four riders including Collins ended up on the same points at the top of the sprint classification, but he was unfortunately denied the jersey when the competition was decided on GC placings. His sprinting abilities have now been firmly established however, and we may see an Orwell lead-out train in the near future!

Collins in one of the many breaks he infiltrated over the weekend (photo thanks to Pawel Sadowski of

Once again a small break - of three - reached the finish ahead of the bunch, but their slim margin of victory meant only one was able to leapfrog Blennerhassett on the GC. Philippe Bourdarias was active in the chase in the last 40km, but managed to save a final kick for the bunch sprint. The big guns opened up too early, and Bourdarias came around them to complete a perfect sprint and take 4th place.

We've yet to see a shot of Bourdarias' glorious sprint, but here he is shortly before it (photo thanks to Pawel Sadowski of

The weekend belonged to Blennerhassett though – two top ten finishes and 6th overall in a field of 80 riders. (Originally he had been reported as 5th, but commissaires later adjusted the results and Lucan's Mark Reilly kept his 3rd place.) With the Maigh Eo results, he's earned seven points toward his upgrade to A1 – just under halfway. It's a well-deserved dividend for his dedicated winter training regime, and he'll no doubt complete the promotion over the coming months if his form continues in the same vein.

More photos available of Maigh Eo on Facebook: Stage 1, Stage 2 TT, Stage 3,

While Blennerhassett was cementing his GC spot, further racing was underway in Slane at the Boyne GP. The women's race acted as the opener of the Joe Daly Women’s National League, and was marked by a major pile-up in the first lap. Our own Mags Donnelly was caught up in the middle of it, but was one of the lucky ones in the greater scheme. Naoise Sheridan was involved in a lesser fashion, while Aideen Keenan came down later in the race. Some riders required hospitalisation, while Donnelly escaped with bad bruising and will no doubt be sore today – we wish her and the other riders a swift recovery.

On the racing front, evergreen Orla Hendron attacked around the halfway mark with junior Josie Knight (O’Leary Stone-Kanturk). Hendron knew she didn't have the legs to stay the pace and returned to the bunch, stating later that one more pair of legs could've meant success for the break. Knight was duly caught, and in the final kilometres, Hendron sheltered in the bunch to recover, before emerging to secure 4th at the finish. Monica Marconi was unfortunate to finish just outside the prizes, but did well to get back into contention after being held up by the crash earlier in the race.

In the A4 race, an uneventful race ended in a bunch sprint, with Newbridge finisher Mark Mulcahy once again charging home with the leaders to win 5th. Mulcahy is slowly but steadily working his way toward an upgrade to A3, and is hoping to be on the road again this weekend.

Hendron skulking at the back of the pack, before going on to take 4th on the line! (Photo thanks to Brendan Culleton)

Mark Mulcahy receiving his prize at the Boyne GP earlier. (Photo thanks to Dermot Cooney)

Off-road, the Biking Blitz event saw several races for varying ages and skill levels take place in Ticknock Forest. Eric Downey returned to his mountain biking roots to take 5th in the Super Pro category, behind such heavy hitters as Robin Seymour. Former Orwellian Patrick Santini scored 10th in the Baggy Shorts race, as he shifts his focus to cross country riding.

In the youth races, Ciaran Keogh, Uisneach Sheridan and Darragh Collins took part in the U14 race, while Sulayman Ahmed crashed out of the U12 event. Older brother Jamal Ahmed went on to win a fine 4th in the U16 race.

Some of the youth riders at Ticknock

Both brothers then had the opportunity of a lifetime yesterday, when they took part in the St Patrick's Day parade. Cycling Ireland invited 20 cyclists to bookend the parade, with 10 preceding the main event, and 10 following at the rear. Ten of the total were Orwell members, and we'll be publishing a set of photos from the day during the week.


Rás Mhaigh Eo, Mayo (15-16/3/2014)

Stage 1
1 Derek Burke ( 2.16’51″
10 Tom Blennerhassett @1’46″
18 Phillippe Bourdarias @1’46"
23 James Busher @1’46"
31 Aidan Collins @1’46"
? Neal Hudson @1’46"

Stage 2 TT
1 Jason Prendergast (Liquidworx Fitscience) 12’08″480
2 Tom Blennerhassett 12"19' @11"
30 James Busher 13"27' @1’19″
66 Neal Hudson 15"07' @2’59″
74 Aidan Collins 15"47' @3’39″
80 Phillippe Bourdarias 17"48' @5'40"

GC after Stage 2
1 Ronan Killeen (Lucan CRC) 2.29’42″
5 Tom Blennerhassett @1'14"
20 James Busher @2’22″
45 Neal Hudson @4’02″
51 Aidan Collins @4’42″
62 Phillippe Bourdarias @6'43"

Stage 3
1 Derek Burke ( 2.22’35″
4 Phillippe Bourdarias @13"
11 Aidan Collins @13"
15 Tom Blennerhassett @13"
28 Neal Hudson @13"
42 James Busher @2’51″

Final GC
1 Ronan Killeen (Lucan CRC) 2.29’42″
6 Tom Blennerhassett @1'14"
29 Neal Hudson @4’02″
33 Aidan Collins @4’42″
35 James Busher @5’00″
42 Phillippe Bourdarias @6'43"

Full results available at


Boyne GP, Slane (16/3/2014)

A1/A2 Race
1 Ryan Sherlock (Tomacc)
2 Greg Swinand (UCD CC)
3 Cormac Clarke (Newry Wheelers)
4 Sean Lacey (Aquablue)
5 Mark Potts (Omagh Wheelers)
6 Sean Mc Kenna (UCD CC)
7 Chris Reilly (Liquidworx-Fitscience)
8 Robin Kelly (Aquablue)

Unplaced A2s
1 Eligus Civilis (Top Team)
2 Danny Bruton (AC Bisontine)
3 Hugh Mc Mahon (VeloRevolution)
4 Darragh Zaidan (Adamstown)
5 Noel Thompson (Smartlamp)

A3 Race
1 S Bracken (Usher IRC)
2 K Tobin (McNally Swords)
3 D Crowe (Dublin Wheelers)
4 F Billings (Lucan CRC)
5 R McDonnell (Dublin Wheelers)
6 Oriol Garbeo (Henry J Lyons)
7 Phil O Flaherty (McNally Swords)
8 G Dargle (Stamullen MD)

Unplaced Juniors
1 F Ryan (NRPT-Standard Life)
2 C Clarke (Newry Wheelers)
3 J O Donoghue (Tullamore)

A4 Race
1 Mark Donnelly Orr (DUCC)
2 Shane Quinn (Longford)
3 Edward Brennan (Dublin Wheelers CC)
4 Keith Hughes (Bikeworx)
5 Mark Mulcahy (Orwell Wheelers)
6 Emmet Reilly (TC Racing)
7 Stephen Curry (Cuchulainn)
8 Derek Evans (SERC)

Joe Daly Cycles Women’s National League R1

1 Amy Brice (DID Electrical Racing Team)
2 Josie Knight ( O’Leary Stone Kanturk)
3 Claire Oakley (XMTB McConvey Cycles)
4 Orla Hendron (Orwell Wheelers)
5 Fiona Guihen (DID Electrical Racing Team)
6 Sarah Piner (DID Electrical Racing Team) Junior Prize
Josie Knight (O’Leary Stone-Kanturk)


Ticknock Biking Blitz

Super Pro
1 Robin Seymour 1:26:13
5 Eric Downey 1:32:52

U16 Boys
1 Cian May
4 Jamal Ahmed

Full results available at