Team Chain Reaction Cycles/Vitus were formed at the start of 2012, and the fledgling road team are riding in various British and Irish races throughout this season on board our brand new Vitus road bikes.
The Rás Dhun na nGall stage race, hosted by Four Masters Cycling Club, has become one of the most popular races on the calendar in Ireland over the past years comprising of four stages over a three day period.
Taking place in and around the town of Ardara in the West coast of Ireland, the four stages comprised of three road races and one hill climb time trial.
Stage 1 on Friday evening would set the scene for the coming days with a high paced 32 mile road race. The pace was fast from the outset with the bunch staying together and any breakaways being chased down immediately.
Gareth McKee was showing fine form and gained some valuable points in the KOM competition. With the main field staying together there was very little time difference at the end of the first stage.
Nigel Elder in action on Stage 2
Stage 2 on Saturday morning took in a two mile TT hill climb on the Glengesh pass where gradients would peak at 18%! Matthew Adair had placed second in this stage last year so was pinning hopes on a similar performance this year. Unfortunately there were a few other riders who were able to better Matti's time leaving him with a fifth place finish. This would gain Matti enough points to put him in the U23 leader's jersey and place him in fifth overall in GC. Guest rider Stephen Stewart punctured with 75 metres to go on the steepest section of the climb but managed to keep riding to finish the stage!
Once we had all crossed the finish line we sat back to watch the remaining riders do battle with the climb before heading back to the B&B to refuel for the afternoon's road race.
Stage 3 was a 51 mile road race which set off at 14:30 under the intense heat of a warm summer sun, 25° to be precise! Gareth had set his sights on gaining KOM points throughout the stage and managed to obtain enough points to secure the KOM jersey by the finish of the stage.
Matti Adair sprinting to the line in Stage 3
Matti's goal for this stage was to maintain his lead in the U23 competition and retain the leader's jersey. When the break went Matti opted to let it go and save his legs for the final stage on Sunday as none of his rivals had made the jump.
Steady rides by the rest of the team saw them maintain a solid position in GC with everyone getting around safely without any major dramas. Sunburnt and dehydrated, it was great to cross the finish line on this stage!
Stage 4 – The grand finale that would see the race take in several loops around Ardara and finish some 61 miles later at the top of the Glengesh pass! With the temperature having dropped considerably following yesterday's heatwave it was looking like better conditions for racing. The wind had picked up and would prove a contributing factor over the course of the race.
Matti Adair leading the bunch in Stage 4
Today we had two of the leader's jerseys on the shoulders of our team with Matti in the U23 leaders jersey and Gareth in the KOM jersey. The team was in fourth overall and it was all to play for in this final stage.
Andrew Hedley during Stage 4
The first KOM was hit two miles into the stage and was taken in at a fast pace with several attempts at breakaways being reeled in to keep the main bunch together. A small group was tailed off the back over this climb which left them with the main objective of getting around and finishing the race.
Gareth and Andrew
Matti played the race out keeping towards the front of the bunch marking his rivals and staying out of trouble. Gareth pushed on in his pursuit of the KOM competition and narrowly missed out on winning this by two points to Cormac Clarke who proved to be a dominating force throughout the weekend.
Matti held on to his lead in the U23 competition and secured first place and the leader's jersey
Gareth McKee awarded for his King of the Mountains win
The team finished in fourth place overall just a few points shy of third place, a great performance against some very stiff competition!
This is one of the best stage races in Ireland for club racers and a real test of both physical and mental strength. We were blessed by fine weather for this one and we hope that Mother Nature is feeling as generous for next year's event.
Everyone at CRC Vitus would like to thank Four Masters Cycling Club for hosting this fantastic race which is growing in stature every year. Great organisation and challenging routes for each stage have provided a great weekend of racing and great craic.
Full results can be found here.
Chain Reaction Cycles/Vitus official race partners: