The 24th Edition of Rás Dhun na nGall got underway on Friday evening in the bustling Donegal Heritage Town of Ardara.
The event which is promoted by Four Masters Cycling Club and supported by the Nesbitt Arms Hotel and the Ardara Traders is one of the most popular stage events on the calendar for A2 and A3 riders. It has been running for 24 years with this being the fourth year in Ardara.
Almost 140 riders took to the roads on Friday for the 30 mile 1st Stage which takes in the Frosses and Dunkineely and finishes in the Main Street of Ardara.
Coming into Ardara all was set for a very fast bunch sprint which was taken by 24 year old Joseph Breheny of UCD. Luke Hylands riding for Team Vision Racing was second while Peter McBride of Errigal CC and Liam Corcorcan (Castlebar CC) were third and fourth. Aaron McBride of Four Masters lifted the White Jersey for the Young Rider category.
For Stage 2 on Saturday, eventual winner, Daire Feely of SEEng was best of these and his time of 7’41.07” gave him an eleven second advantage over Craig McAuley of the Cycling Ulster Slane Cycles team. It was also sufficient to see him take the Yellow jersey from Joseph Breheny of UCD.
The 3rd Stage continued on Saturday afternoon with a 52 mile road race stage around Portnoo, Doochary and Glenties. As the race entered Ardara town limits it was Paul Vaughan who dug deep and found the legs to take him across the line in top position. Cormac Keeney was second with Gary Scully of Nenagh and Darnell Moore of Caldwell Cycles taking the next positions.
Stage 4 would be a day of strong attacking as the remaining riders tackled the sixty mile last stage of Rás Dhun na nGall which would finish on the top of Glengesh pass. With ten riders less than a minute off ‘Yellow’ and category prizes such Young Rider and King of the Mountains being hotly contested, there was everything to play for.
From the outset the pace was high so by the time the riders reached the first KoH at “The Nick” less than four miles into the stage, a number of riders had already been dropped with a few deciding that they were not going any further.
Leader Feely was unfortunate to suffer a mechanical and had some hard riding to do get back into contention. A crash later on also saw him struggling to maintain contact with the bunch but his determination to hold Yellow never wavered and he rode hard to keep in contention.
As the riders began the iconic climb of Glengesh those who hoped to feature continued to battle. In the end it was Hinch and Scully who rounded the last hairpin first with 150 metres to go. The pair battled it out to take the stage with Scully eventually able to whittle away at the slender lead held by Hinch and take the stage. The next placings were almost all taken by the top contenders in this year’s race. McAuley crossed the line in third position a mere 29 seconds ahead of Daire Feeley and Darnell Moore. Ryan Orr put in a great performance to take sixth while Cormac Keeney of Errigal CC was seventh on the stage.
Daire Feeley did enough on the top of Glengesh to retain his yellow jersey and win the race overall by 12 seconds from Craig McCauley, with Gary Scully a further second behind. Top Donegal riders overall were Cormac Keeney (Errigal) 5th @ 25 secs, Paul Vaughan (Sportactive), 9th @ 50 secs; Rossa Doherty (Donegal Jr Dev) 13th @ 1’16 and David Donaghy (Caldwell) 16th @ 1’37 and Michael McBride (Belgian Project) 20th @ 2’00.
Four Masters Cycling Club would like to thank all those people behind the scenes who made this race run safely and successfully. The Gardai, race officials, motorbike marshals, club marshals, marshals from neighbouring cycling clubs that assisted with marshalling, medical crews, Marian and Tommy Lamb (race reports), local press and anyone else that helped out to make this event a great success. The staff at the Nesbitt Arms were terrific while the Ardara Traders made everyone feel very welcome. A special mention must be made of all the B&B landladies who were very accommodating to all the riders and teams. Finally, thanks to all the riders and teams that signed on and gave us entertainment for the weekend and hope to see you all again in 2015.
Rás Dhún na nGall 2014 Final GC Top 20
1. 105 Feeley, Daire J SeEng 6h08’46
2. 33 McAuley, Craig J Cycling Ulster 6h08’58”
3. 136 Scully, Gary 2 Nenagh CC 6h08’59”
4. 16 Moore, Darnell J Caldwell 6h09’05”
5. 51 Keeney, Cormac 3 Errigal CC 6h09’11”
6. 12 Hinch, Philip 2 Brotherton 6h09’13”
7. 118 Orr, Ryan J The Belgain Proj 6h09’33”
8. 35 Reilly, Ryan J Cycling Ulster 6h09’35”
9. 108 Vaughan, Paul 2 Sportactive 6h09’36”
10. 135 Walsh, Stephen 3 Carn Wheelers 6h09’50”
11. 95 Wright, Jody 3 Phoenix CC 6h09’54″
12. 36 Swan, Aaron J Cycling Ulster 6h09’56″
13. 38 Doherty, Rossa J Donegal 6h10’02″
14. 68 McGauley, Mark 2 MAD MTB 6h10’09”
15. 126 O’Reilly, Paul 3 UCD 6h10’14”
16. 15 Donaghey, David 3 Caldwell 6h10’23”
17. 112 Hughes, Keith V Bikeworx 6h10’39”
18. 23 McCrory, Joseph 3 Carn Wheelers 6h10’40”
19. 111 Stewart, Rodney V Team Vision Raci 6h10’44”
20. 117 McBride, Michael U The Belgain Proj 6h10’46”