After Orwell's exploits in Cong for the National A3 Championships, the remnants of the Cong 7 reunited for a last ditch assault on the Charleville 2 Day. Jamie Busher tells us how it went below!

Charleville is the final stage race of the year and probably one of the best with a super tough finale on stage 3. In the build up all riders were suffering from various strains of the dreaded man flu and it was a race in itself to actually make the sign on. The A2/A3 team was made up of Jamie Busher, Bernard English, Brian McNally, Paul Perry and Darragh Boyd.

Stage 1

This was a 86km stage with 3 circuits of a 26km loop which contained two small climbs no more than 2 mins. With the tail end of a vicious man fly still in our systems the team agreed the best tactic was sit, monitor things and not get too involved early on and maybe start getting aggressive towards the latter end of the race. As expected it was aggressive from the drop of the flag with riders going off the front constantly. This continued until a small group got away and that group swelled to 20+ as the stronger riders departed the peleton. Unfortunately in the early stages Daragh crashed out of the race but on the positive side suffered no major injuries. That large breakaway was still up the road but they crashed and the numbers dwindled in the break. Communication wasn't great so we were unsure how many were in the break but decided we would stick with our pre race plan and try execute a lead out for Brian.

On the final climb before the 4km flat run in, English, Busher and McNally are all sitting in the top 20. With 2km left English makes his move and pushes forward with Busher and McNally in tow. Busher then takes it up with 1.5km left, with the wind coming from the left there was plenty of room on the left side and drives McNally to within 300 metres. McNally then pushes in the sprint but unfortunately gets swamped on his right, finishes 9th in the bunch sprint and 20th overall. It transpired 11 riders were up the road and with Busher, English and McNally all on the same time as the main bunch its still all to play for on stages 2&3.

Mixing it up in the bunch (photo thanks to Sean Rowe, used with permission)

Stage 2

Stage 2 is a flat 6.2km time trial, easy right? Nope, this is 8/9 mins of controlled torture. Go out too hard in the first 2 mins and there is simply no recovering and you will watch your speed drop until the point where it becomes embarrassing. At the breakfast table we drilled this into ourselves to hold it back for the second leg and in running terms do a negative split. Breakfast over we mounted the turbos in the hotel car park, American tourists looked on in bewilderment and one lady quipped, "What are you doing to the bike?" We are all off within 5 mins of each other so head down to the start area at the same time. Busher is first off and clocks 8'32" followed closely by McNally 8'38", English 8'53" and Perry 10'01". Busher takes 13th, McNally 17th, English 32nd and Perry 99th and puts Orwell in a strong position for the final queen stage.

The lads make their way to the TT (photo thanks to Sean Rowe, used with permission)

Stage 3

This stage represents the most challenging prospect and with two ascents in the Ballyhoura mountains all the riders are contemplating an afternoon of pain. The main climb is just over 5km and the average gradient is 4%, which on a social spin is not that difficult but at race pace this climb is a real brute. The first 25km are uneventful with all Orwell riders marshalling the front of the race to ensure a move is not missed. Todays tactic is entirely different to the prior day, leave it all on the road and go with whatever move looks dangerous. We hit the bottom of the climb and are well positioned for the first ascent, what ensues is a torturous 11 minute battle to stay in contention.

At the summit we can lift our heads and survey the damage, there is approximately 30-40 riders left and 3 Orwell riders in form of Busher, English and McNally are still present. After the descent and on a flat section McNally and Busher hit the front in an attempt to push the pace and punish the riders who had been dropped on the climb. Some groups chase back on to the peleton at this point and a small group of 5 go up the road. Orwell sit in and ready themselves for the second ascent. The climb is taken at an equally fast pace as the first ascent and with tired legs the peleton shatters straight away. A group of 15-20 riders are doing the damage, with the breakaway of 5 in sight the pace lifts a notch and more riders are shelled off the back of the peleton.

Busher and McNally are still in the hunt at this point but unfortunately English finds the wrong side of a split in the lead group and loses contact. At the summit there are approximately 30 riders left and safely in there is Busher/McNally who can take a moment to analyse the situation. On the descent and flat 10km section to the finish the group grows to 40 riders. Some riders take flight in the closing kilometres and with tired bodies the bunch is reluctant to chase. With 2km remaining and 5 riders out front by 10 seconds McNally takes to the head of the race and lines the race out replicating his earlier TT performance. With Busher sitting second wheel and the break of 5 coming back this represents a great position for Orwell. The catch is made with 400 metres left to race and with a small rise over a bridge riders come over the top on both right and left, Busher and McNally are left boxed in and unable to contest the sprint. English rolls in just in behind the lead group followed by Perry.

With Busher and McNally getting over the line with the same time as the winner they secured 15th and 18th respectively rounding off a very solid event. The split on the final climb cost English valuable time and lost some positions to finish 60th on GC, until this point English had not missed a beat and was unlucky to find the wrong side of the split. Paul Perry is a recently upgraded A4 and gained valuable experience competing with a high quality field on some very tough courses.

The club can feel aggrieved that we went home empty handed in terms of prizes but the cohesion and experience gained in the event is sure to pay dividends in the following season. A big thank you to Ben English and his wife for providing support during and after the races, its a huge moral boost to have someone on the side of the road to dish out bottles and shout encouragement.


Charleville Two-Day, Charleville (5-6/9/2015)

Stage 1
1 116 Yelverton,Sean MUN Munster Academy 2h03'35"
20 124 McNally,Brian ORB Orwell B 2h06'56" @ s/t
25 120 Busher,Jamie ORB Orwell B 2h06'56" @ s/t
32 122 English,Bernard ORB Orwell B 2h06'56" @ s/t
109 123 Perry,Paul ORB Orwell B 2h27'10" @ s/t

Stage 2 (TT)
1 117 Murphy,A J MID Midleton CTC 08'09.20"
13 120 Busher,Jamie ORB Orwell B 08'32.63" @23.43"
17 124 McNally,Brian ORB Orwell B 08'37.82" @28.62"
32 122 English,Bernard ORB Orwell B 08'53.18" @43.98"
99 123 Perry,Paul ORB Orwell B 10'01.09" @01'51.89

Stage 3
1 138 Murphy,Conor MUN Munster Academy 2h21'49"
17 124 McNally,Brian ORB Orwell B 2h21'54" @ s/t
21 120 Busher,Jamie ORB Orwell B 2h21'54" @ s/t
64 122 English,Bernard ORB Orwell B 2h26'02" @04'13"
94 123 Perry,Paul ORB Orwell B 3h00'17" @ s/t

Final GC
1 116 Yelverton,Sean J Munster Academy 4h33'47"
15 120 Busher,Jamie 3 Orwell B 4h37'22" @03'35"
18 124 McNally,Brian 3 Orwell B 4h37'27" @03'40"
60 122 English,Bernard 3 Orwell B 4h41'51" @08'04"
93 123 Perry,Paul 3 Orwell B 5h37'28" @1h03'41"