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The biggest event of the year in Irish Cycling...

The biggest event of the year in Irish Cycling...

The Ginger Avenger took his place on the starting grid at the famous Shay Elliott Memorial race…


The most hotly contested one day race in Ireland. 88 miles of hard, battered and rolling roads; leading to a trip up and over the Wicklow Mountains; including the 3km climb up Glenmalure to the Shay Elliott Memorial.


Planet X has history in this race with Kevin Dawson winning in 2005, Lovatt taking the honours in 2002 and hopes were high for 2010. A newly formed Irish team included Dodger Aiken, Stephen Barrett and Gary Crory. The lads had been over to the UK for the Cicle Classic and given a good show with Stevo in the break all day.


The preparation started for the Ginger Avenger on Friday night as he prayed for the Volcanic Ash cloud floating over Ireland to save him. Next came the rain dance followed by the “dog has eaten my plane tickets Frank”. Better known for going slow downhill the GA was excited at the prospect of playing mountain goats!! After years of winning UK and European "Masters" Track titles why not ride a massive road race on a course that wouldn't suit him!! The only thing in his favour was the new carbon Nanolight, ultra-stiff, ultra-light just missing a bottom bracket motor!


In true Irish style, the Ginger Avenger was picked up at Dublin Airport from departures!!


Shamed into eating pasta as pre-race food at dinner, the normal burger and chips were off the menu. As was the ale, at over €5.50 a pint! Speaking about the Guinness Frank said, “It tasted great last night, when I saw the bill it left a bit of a nasty taste in the mouth this morning”.


Race day came and the first 15km was like a youth u15’s circuit race. Attack, Attack, Attack, Attack along the M11 motorway….how weird was that, racing with cars coming past and people trying to jump behind wagons to get a gap. Mental!


The first and only break to get established contained Planet X rider Stevo. He joined a group of about 12 riders that stayed clear all day until splintering over the Glenmalure. Back in the peloton the GA was having a ball, up and down, up and down, up and down and that was just breakfast. The Planet X team was riding strong at the front of the race, the GA clipped off with about 60km gone and was joined by a group of 5. He was hoping to get a move going but after a few miles nothing was happening with the glass cranking paddy’s sitting on. His only hope was to get a gap at the bottom of the Glenmalure and lose it steadily and hope to hang on!!


Wicklow approached and through the foothills the pace was high, Planet X rider Dodger and Crory along with the GA riding strong at the front setting the pace. The field was strung out behind.


Then, all of a sudden they turned sharp right and they were faced with a wall of tarmac that they called a road….and it just went on and on and up and up for over 3km. The first 1km was ok, the GA was hanging on and the Nanolight was doing its bit, 1.5km and he was swinging on the tail, 2.5km and the elastic snapped…going over the top the chasers were riding hard with gaps starting to appear…losing about 30 secs over the top that slipped out down the decent…the Ginger Avengers day out in the sun was over…and he got sun burnt legs, the sun popped out for 3 minutes!!


The GA was blasted of the back of the chase group and out on his own with nothing to do but get caught by the next laughing group. Who then proceeded to do nothing for the next 35km leaving the GA and some other daft ape to drag them to the finish!


Race over, trip over, any dreams of riding the RAS over…dropped of at the Airport at Departures…again!! Surely if you got collected at departures you should be departing from arrivals! Twitter didn’t work in the mountains, the hotel was like a 5 star palace on the outside and a 2 star B&B on the inside and the Starbucks coffee to keep me awake cost nearly €4…


Still holding out hope for a late call up to the RAS the Ginger Avenger is in good spirits today saying, “I have got as much chance as anyone on the flatter stages and fancy I could pull a big results. It wouldn’t be the first time I have pulled it off."

10 May 2010


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