Kanturk 3 Day

A team of 5 were representing St. Tiernans in the Kanturk 3 day over the May Bank holiday weekend – Peter, Mat, Rob, Barry and Mike, from the neighbouring parishes of Cork and Kerry, Germany and Poland. Peter was going down as a GC contender after winning the A2 at Deenside the previous weekend. The rest of the lads were using it for training and hopefully trying to give Peter a hand if needed.

Stage 1 (Saturday afternoon) – The weekend starts with 3 laps of a circuit with two sharp climbs at the start of each lap, and the strong juniors in the field were driving hard right from KM 0, not up for carrying any passengers. Barry, Rob, Mat and Mike were dropped by the main bunch at various stages in the first half of the race, and picked up by the fairly sizable grupetto. There went our chances on the team classification, unless Peter could win by half an hour…

Peter did get up the road solo for a lap but he was a marked man and was eventually reeled in, and he ended up finishing in the bunch 17 seconds down on the winner, Shay Donley. Mat was suffering from a virus and was forced to abandon after 2 laps. He might have been better off on the bike, as he ended up having a hectic weekend multitasking as driver, B&B host, team manager and photographer.

Stage 2 (Sunday morning) – The TT can obviously make a huge difference in a short stage race and it’s probably the most important 8km and 11 minutes (hopefully!) of the weekend for anyone who’s serious about challenging for the GC. Peter and Rob were on at around 9:30am, in perfectly calm conditions along the N72. Peter posted a great time to get 2nd on the stage, and with that got his upgrade to A1. Mike and Barry had the benefit of a lie-in and were on at around 11am. We went to Mat’s in Millstreet for some R&R, which was mostly spent refreshing the Kanturk facebook page to check the TT times, and thinking about Stage 3 in the afternoon. Peter was now in outright 3rd, 21 seconds behind Donley who had also posted the fastest TT time, with Will Ryan in second. Barry unfortunately had to leg it back to Cork and was a DNS for Stage 3… 3 riders left.

Barry in the wind tunnel killing time between Stage 2 and 3.

Stage 3 (Sunday afternoon) – A short, flat stage with 6 laps around Banteer – it’s hard to get away on a stage like this. But that’s exactly what Peter did around the middle of the race, along with 4 others, after politely waiting for the yellow jersey to get back to the bunch after a puncture. There were no other GC threats in the break, and surprisingly the other GC guys let the break go, so this looked like being decisive and Peter drove hard. A puncture in the last kilometre didn’t stop him from rolling over the line with a big time gain and taking the yellow jersey. Rob and Mike hung on to finish in the bunch which was around a minute behind the leaders, meaning Peter had a 25 second advantage going into the final stage.

Sobering news began to filter over from Camross that there had been a serious crash in the race there that morning, which really put things into perspective. As nice and all as it was to have the yellow jersey, all anyone was thinking about and hoping for going into the final day was that the rider involved would make a full and speedy recovery. We have all since learned of the tragic loss for the Lynch family and the greater cycling community. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h-anam.

Stage 4 (Monday morning) – A 120k stage of 5 laps, lumpier than yesterday and with the sharp little climb out of Kanturk at the end of each lap to really test tired legs. The day started with the yellow jersey presentation and Mat sitting at the front of the cavalcade in Car 1. The Baer and Stack clans were in town to offer support and handing out bottles at the side of the road (after watching Youtube ‘how-to’ videos the previous night), which was much appreciated. Peter was an oasis of calm but Rob and Mike were bags of nerves, willing to flog themselves at the front to help but not sure if the legs would be able. Some well-deserved slagging from the peloton whenever caught sitting in was as good as incentive as any to get up towards the front.

Photo by Balooz

In reality, Peter didn’t really need help and this was very much a solo effort. He rode calmly, powerfully and tactically at the front at his tempo, which meant that the 80 strong bunch behind were concentrated only on hanging on to his wheel, and he was avoiding having to make too many unnecessary bursts. There were some attacks, and a small group did get away but they were never really out of sight. A couple of lads from SERC helped out and did lots of pulling in the chase. Some good riding from the strong Kanturk team saw them try to disrupt as they had a rider in the break, but it wasn’t enough to knock Peter off his stride.

We were fairly confident the overall was secured by the time we approached Kanturk for the last time – myself and Rob were getting some info on time gaps and it was looking good. Just as we were getting ready to go up Percival street one last time to the line, there was a pile-up in the front of the bunch at the last bend in the town. Peter didn’t hit the deck but he got caught behind the crash, and it meant there was an anxious wait for the final times as the commissaires worked it all out. In the end, he didn’t lose time and held onto the jersey by 25 seconds for a classy and well-crafted win.

Not everyone is lucky enough to race bikes, fewer still are lucky enough to be in a team with a yellow jersey. But there’s rarely any luck involved in being the winner of a stage race – this was down to hard work and race-craft. As everyone who races with or against Peter knows, as well as being a tank he is an absolute gentleman and no-one will begrudge him this win. He has now won races in every category he has raced in (A4, A3 and A2), and two stage races (Omagh and Kanturk), and is off up to A1 now where he belongs.

Thanks to Mat for doing team car, especially considering the state he was in and that he almost had to pull over to vomit a few times. And a big thanks to Kanturk CC for hosting a great weekend of racing. A great, active, community club and it was great to see the youth races all weekend and the next generation of Dunbars learning their trade.

With a win like this it is easy to feel the buzz of racing and riding a bike competitively. With the tragic events that happened away from our race on the May Bank holiday weekend 2019, you remember we are all part of a family who give up a lot for a short burst of competition each week. In the greater scheme of things it is the camaraderie and enjoyment that is important. No one expects to not return home to their own families after a race, and Sean Lynch will always be in our thoughts as we take to start lines the country over for the rest of our racing days.

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