Mikkel F Honore, guesting for Errigal CC, put on a dominating display of cycling to win this year’s Ras Dhun na nGall, hosted by Four Masters Cycling Club.
The 180 riders that started in Ardara on Friday evening had to contend with unseasonal windy weather, especially on Saturday, although it did stay dry for the entire event.
Friday’s opening stage was a 50 km sprint on a circuit south of Ardara. The bunch stayed mostly together until after the first KOM climb when a group of 3 riders that included Honore, Cameron McIntyre (Cycling Ulster) and Simon Tuomey (Cork Giant) broke clear and managed to stay away until the finish, with Honore taking the sprint over Tuomey.
Saturday morning’s Stage 2 saw the riders tackling the infamous Maghera Hill time trial. This 3.5km climb against the clock was made significantly more difficult by a strong headwind. Honore showed his class again by winning the time trial with a time of 8’50, the only rider to break 9 minutes, and extended his overall lead. Derek Cunningham was second in 9’11 and Simon Tuomey third in 9’20. Claire McIlwaine was the fastest woman in 11’42 and took the overall lead in the Women’s competition.
Stage 3 was an 80km road stage that followed the roads north of Ardara and included the famous Corkscrew climb out of Doochary and continued towards Dungloe, through Glenties to the finish in Ardara. The windy weather made things difficult for the riders and caused a few crashes on the stage. Mikkel Honore broke away early on the stage and had a lead of over a minute over the bunch. He held on to take his 3rd stage win from Simon Tuomey by 15 seconds and extend his overall lead. Claire McIlwaine was first home again in the Women’s race and extended her overall lead over Eileen Burns (Ballymena CC).
It was all to play for at the start of Stage 4, which took the riders on a 100km double loop south of Ardara and finished with a mountain top finish on Glengesh. Mikkel Honore had an overall lead of nearly a minute on Simon Tuomey and 4 minutes covered the top 10 on General Classification. With the leading riders all watching each other closely, Derek Cunningham and Curtis Gilmore (Ballymena CC) made an early break and Cunningham held on to win the final stage by 17 seconds from overall leader Honore. Cameron McIntyre soon followed in third place 32 seconds behind the winner. Again Claire McIlwaine was the first woman home and won the overall Women’s competition.
Mikkel Honore’s second place on the day was enough for him to keep the Yellow Jersey by over a minute from Simon Tuomey. Veteran Derek Cunningham’s stage win elevated him to third overall. Honore also won the Mountains competition from Cunningham. Darragh Bailey (ITAP) won the U-23 competition. Honore was well backed up by his Errigal CC teammates throughout the weekend and they won the Team competition.
There were some good Donegal performances throughout the weekend. Cormac Keeney, Kevin Holian, Charlie Gallagher, Brian McBride and Sean McFadden all contributed in winning the team prize for Errigal CC. Rodney Orr (Caldwell CC) just finished outside the Top 20 overall. Eamon Mc Brearty, Dinny Doherty, who had the flu, Ben Folan, Gavin Harris and Sandra Devine had solid rides for Four Masters CC. Chris Coyle ( Caldwell CC), Myles Connor, John Boyle and Peter McGee for Tir Chonnaill Gap with Matthew McKinley (AAA) and Damian Langan (Foyle CC) all finished in the Top 70. Warren Blackburn and JP Connolly (Strabane / Lifford CC) both survived opening stage crashes to finish the race.
Four Masters Cycling Club thank O’Malley Scanlon Insurances, the Nesbitt Arms Hotel, the Ardara Traders, JJ Reid Motors, Kelly Toyota, Duffy Express Freight, Watson Hire, the Gardai Siochana, Race Commissaires and Officials, Race marshals, motorbike marshals, sign-on personnel, riders and team personnel and the spectators that contributed to a successful race.
We look forward to meeting with you all next year in 2016, reverting back to the June Bank Holiday weekend.