So, Stage 1 is over.
First the formalities….. My aim today was twofold, to stay as close to the front as possible, and to finish in the bunch.
Everyone thinks the front is safer than the middle, or the back…… so everyone wants to be at the front. Trouble is, we can’t all be at the front, there are 70 of us, the road would have to be 30m wide, and the roads around Sneem? Well they’re narrow baby, and on today’s circuit the uphill road can’t be much more than a meter across. It’s a constant battle to stay in those first 10 or 20 spots, you having to keep moving, fighting, taking chances, trying not to get trapped on the inside, chasing all the moves. It’s exhausting.
But I did manage it, I stayed up there for 60 of today’s 66km. And the first accident of the day? Well it happened right there at the front, just to my left as we rounded the corner onto the main road first time around. I managed to avoid it, just, phew. I don’t think anyone was too hurt, thankfully. And the second crash of the day, well, it also happened just in front of me, and on the narrow uphill road, I had to unclip and steer through the brambley roadside to avoid being involved, as did two of my Cycling Leinster team mates. We were about 6km from home, and turning into a headwind, and I just couldn’t chase back on…… I tried, I really tried, but no.
So, today for me was not a success. I failed on both my aims. I now lie in 42nd place (I call it a small victory that of the 2 pages that make up the GC, I am on the first one, just.), 42 seconds down the GC going into the TT later this afternoon, I start two hours from now in fact, need to recover fast, uphill TT, tough, yeuch. I have done the force-feeding, now time to rest a little, legs up on the wall, water bottle to hand, woolly hat on.
And what else can I say about today….. the rain stayed off, there was lots of helpful cheering from the roadside, especially as we sped through Sneem village, the stage flew by. The pace was high but not ridiculous, there was very little attacking, and nothing that went away got more than 10secs before being reeled back in. It all ended in a bunch sprint, a bunch of more than 35 girls, and it’s a downhill run into the finish too…..that must have been hairy enough, maybe I should be happy I wasn’t around for that!