The Louth Prague Cycling team, making a return to the An Post Rás, after a 6 year absence, had an outstanding race in the 8 day professional international event.
The race was a mix of professional continental teams and amateur Irish county teams. Before the race few would have tipped the Louth team to be amongst the best amateur teams in the race, as Dublin, Cork, Tipperary and Meath all possessed very strong line ups.
However when the race crossed the final finish line in Skerries the Louth team were second amateur team overall, behind the vastly experienced Cork team.
The team was comprised of Rás veterans Roger Aiken and Colm Quinn, Ray O`Shuaghnessy riding the event for the second time and newcomers Ultan Coyle and Bryan McCrystal, with O`Shaughnessy unlucky to crash out on the second day.
While Aiken was a known quantity in Irish cycling circles and had an outstanding race to finish in 7th overall, it was McCrystal who was an absolute revelation in the event.
His most outstanding contribution was seen on stage 6 into Carlow, when himself and Aiken remained as two of only a handful of amateurs remaining in the leading group.
Aiken who was still in the hunt for the win suffered an untimely puncture and was seeing his hopes of a high overall placing disappear up the road.
While Aiken received a working wheel from the Louth team car, McCrystal dropped back and waited for his team captain.
Working together they regained contact with the bunch, whom were in full flight for a sprint finish. With Aiken safely back in the bunch, McCrystal moved up to take the day’s prize for the first county rider home, a truly remarkable performance.
Quinn completing his 4th Rás had another solid performance, while Dundalk native Coyle, now resident in London, also had a great race.
Being based in the UK, Coyle’s area of expertise was as an individual rider against the clock, having only last year won the 24 hour British Championships, covering an astonishing 489 miles in the 24hr period.
He coped well with the transition to bunch racing and along with Quinn did plenty of work early on in the day’s racing for team captain Aiken.
Meanwhile on the local front, the latest round of the Galibier Time Trial League also doubled up as the Leinster 10 mile Championships.
Newry’s Dessi Woods pulled off another win, going some 42 seconds faster than the previous week for a 21:06.
Second position went to Daniel Kirwan of Lucan and with it the Leinster title. Third on the night was David Walsh of Wexford’s Slaney Cycling Club and the bronze medal went to fourth place rider Anthony O`Neil of Usher.
The racing was close with only five seconds separating the first three. The women’s title went to Francien Meehan, ahead of Cuchulainn’s Eve McCrystal, with Rachel Glendon of Orwell in 3rd. The club picked up gold medals in the A3 category by Niall Clarke and in the juniors by Jordan Flood.
Round 5 of the FPM Accountants Summer Cycling League saw wins fro Karl Dolan in the B league and Barry Douglas in the A league. In the B race, Group 5 managed to catch Group 4 in front and hold off Group 6 from behind.
In the sprint finish there was literally a hair’s width between Dolan and Alan Bingham, with Kevin Trainer in 3rd.
Meanwhile in the A league, Douglas’s Group 3 swept all infront of the and Barry showed a clean pair of heels to Ralph Ginsi in 2nd and Enda McKeown in 3rd.