Stage 1 Results - 113 racers started the Time Trial including some of the best junior time trlalists in the world separated by under 2 minutes. The winner traveled at 50kph over the 6.2km rolling course. That is fast. The best placing for the team was Hugo in 49th followed by 66, 75, and 76 for Mark, Alastair, and Giovanni. 110km Stage 2 tomorrow covering some beautiful countryside.
Stage 2 Results - When the best riders in the world get together they go fast - and they don't let up. That is what happened today in stage 2. Attacks started at the gun, continued, and the race eventually broke into six groups leaving a lead peloton of about 40 riders including Mark and Alastair. The rest of the field scattered about the road including a few crashes that caused a split for Giovanni Vasta (Gino). On the famed Castle Hill climb, Alastair got gapped from the main group late leaving Mark Yaroshevsky to salvage a 24th place finish with Alastair, Gino, and Hugo coming in the following groups but ahead of the looming time cuts. Tomorrow the Team regroups and faces the Cliffs of Moher a picturesque course along the most famous cliffs in Ireland.
Stage 3 Results - Stage racing is unforgiving and the chaos is hard to explain. On today’s stage, at 8km, in there was a major crash involving cars and affecting over 20 riders including Hugo Schreur and Giovanni Vasta. Gino bounced back up, put himself together, and rolled away - only to find he had lost both his water bottles on impact - at the beginning of a 100km stage! At the same time, the road was covered with cars, bikes, ambulances, mechanics, wheels, traffic… It all started when the “rolling enclosure” left a few cars sticking out on the narrow road. One of the young riders clipped a mirror causing the chain reaction crash. In Ireland, they generally don’t neutralize (slow) road races so the race continues. So when the DORNIER team car came up on this event there were people running in every direction taking stock of what happened. As we made our way to the front we finally found Hugo with a cracked bike frame and bloody. It was at that point we thought the race was over for Hugo. But instead, the mechanic from Hincapie Juniors squad volunteered a bike to Hugo to get him on his way. As the race continued the speed picked up, the rain started and then the attacks began. None other than the yellow jersey and green jersey attacking. At this point, the peloton is flying through coastal towns with a caravan of 40 cars and motorcycles leading and following them zig-zagging around tourists and the buses that carry them. The rain started again. The racing was on as they approached the big climb of the day. Alastair gave his water to Gino since the support car couldn’t work forward in the confusion - great teamwork. On this climb, more attacks and a 20mph [side] wind off of the ocean. This combination of rain, wind, attacks, and hill proved to be too much for Gino and others so they dropped back to form a second and third group. The pressure was on. Mark Yaroshevsky and Alastair Pounder survived that picturesque hill - at the Cliffs of Moher - and kept up with the main group. There is now 20km to go and it is raining and the technical descents on blind curved narrow unfamiliar roads. Remember to “stay left” as these are open roads in Ireland. The race continues to the final roundabout with Mark and Alastair working together fighting for position in the remaining group of 30. In the sprint Alastair gets 13th and Mark 23rd separated by a few seconds. The team’s first points of the race! A few minutes later Gino rolls in. Hugo, after being unable to continue due to wrist pain, is picked up by the support vehicle and returns to the finish medical staff. Not ideal his race is done, Mark sits in the GC at 36th place and three boys will start the hilly stage 4 tomorrow. Great effort today.
Stage 4 Results - Today’s stage involved a transfer from the home base hotel Treacys West County in Ennis to the Coastal town of Ballyvaughan. In this stage, there is a Category climb at the 12km mark followed by three more Cat climbs and finally a fast descent to the finish. Of note today was the 20mph steady cross-tail wind along the final 20km of the race. The start rolled and the team was strong through the first category climb of the day. On the second climb - the famed “Corkscrew Hill” the pressure was too much and the field split. Mark Yaroshevsky and Alastair Pounder in the front group and Giovanni Vasta in the second. As the race rolled on there was the obligatory crash this time involving a rider in between the team cars - he got up. Over the next climbs, the race stayed that way with a lead group and a second group. As the race approached the final stretch of road the attacks started. From none other than the yellow jersey (The race leader). That attack split the lead group into four smaller groups. Why attack as the yellow jersey? Because you can and to do so assert yourself as the strongest person in the race. This really frustrated In the riders. It worked. In the end, Mark and Alastair finished just behind the leader and the break - and well enough to move Mark into 26th and Alastair into 46th place in the GC. More racing in stage 5 tomorrow covering fast flat roads and then Gallows HIll - the biggest and longest climb of the Tour.
Stage 5 Results - Yaro cracks the Top 10 on Gallows Hill! Today’s hilltop finish was hard - and it came after three other category climbs. Let’s go to the beginning of the stage where a fast flat start led to early attacks and speeds averaging almost 30 mph. In the first climb of the day, the field was back together and Alastair was crashed by a rider - got up, crashes feel normal now. In the ensuing climbs the field kept dropping riders; but not our team. In the Team car, the narrow roads made the descents nerve-racking as there was not enough room to zoom past dropped riders at speeds over 60kmh. “Bi-Roads” in Ireland are single lane roads that leave room for only one car. These dynamics appear to be normal for the locals. Much of this stage was on these narrow roads including the last big climb of the day a hill-top finish with 6% grade and 500 final vertical feet to the line. You can see in the pictures the riders out of the saddle pushing. With Mark Yaroshevsky grabbing 10th he achieved the best result of the race for the Team so far. Seconds later, Alastair Pounder and Giovanni Vasta crossed the line for a field result. Stage 6 is Sunday - the last stage - a seven lap circuit with two climbs and a really fast finish.
Results for Stage 6 - Giovanni Vasta goes on the attack! The plan for the final day was to give Gino a shot on a course that suited him. The race was a rolling circuit for 7 laps totaling 75km. Gino was told to attack the group 1X and "see what result he got"... And he did attack on lap 2 gaining 10 seconds... and again on lap 2... and again on lap 3 trying to perfect the craft... Super aggressive attempts to challenge some of the best junior riders forcing the other team’s top riders to chase. The moves didn’t stick but certainly showed that he belonged in the race and that he had the endurance and staying power to face the six tough stages - and then on the last day put on meaningful attacks. Alastair also went on the attack on the famed and team-named “Spaceship Hill” (Peak of the climb marked by a spaceship looking water tower). But in the end, none of the attacks on the day from any of the big teams, like Hot Tubes and Hincapie, worked as The Irish National team covered them all protecting their race leader. The race then ended in a bunch sprint with the Irish national team winning that sprint and then awarding Ben Wolf the overall yellow jersey. In the final GC, Mark Yaroshevsky achieved 24th, Alastair Pounder 44th, and Gino 75th and Mark collecting prize money for the GC rewarding his day-to-day consistency! This was a great week in Ennis Ireland and while we didn't win - the Team grew from the experience. More details, photos, and videos to come later via a blog post. For now REST… Racing begins again soon. Thanks for following along this wonderful event in Ireland.
Stage 6 and complete results can be found here.