AN POST RÁS

McFadden dedicates Rás medal to the late Danny Murray

An emotional final day for Letterkenny cyclist

Diarmaid Doherty

Reporter:

Diarmaid Doherty

McFadden dedicates Rás medal to the late Danny Murray

Sean McFadden had one objective on today's final stage of the An Post Rás, and that was to hang on to the bunch for as long as possible.

When he got to the finish in Skerries, he was proud and emotional.

And there was one man in his thoughts all afternoon, the late Danny Murray, whose funeral took place in Letterkenny earlier in the day.

All this week's, we've brought you Sean's daily posts from the grueling An Post Rás event. Here's his final report:

And so it ends.
Around 3.30 pm, after three and a quarter hours in the saddle, I crossed the finish line of the 2017 An Post Rás as a member of the Donegal Voodoo Performance team. Today's stage was 130km and the pace was sharp from the drop of the flag in Ardee - we averaged 51km for the first hour.
The objective today was simple; hang on to the bunch for as long as possible to get into Skerries without any problems. So I had to ride my bike as if I stole it. And I did.
I was riding so hard today I didn't actually know where I was. Realising I had reached Skerries meant that the pressure was off, in some respects.
On the last of three 15km circuits, which consisted of the famous Blackhills, I managed to get the Donegal flag from the team van about 2km from the finish, and tucked into my back pocket.
Every turn of the wheel thereafter was a joy, as I savoured the final minutes of the beast they call the Rás. As I pelted down the home straight I pulled out the flag and raised it above my head as I crossed the finish line.
It was an emotional moment.
This was the place I had set out to get to eight days ago. After a roller-coaster eight days, during which I saw the good, the bad and the ugly, I had achieved my goal.
There is no better feeling than triumphing in the face of adversity.
I knew when I decided to enter the Rás at the start of the year that it wasn't going to be easy. But I didn't think it would prove to be as challenging as it was.
After day two, I genuinely thought I might have bitten off more than I could chew, such was the pace early doors. The gap between the pro riders and county riders appears to be getting wider. My last Rás was back in 2012, and while five years wiser, I'm also five years older. Father Time has the ability to slow us all down. Looks like it's my turn now.
Two bad spills on Thursday in Rathmullan and Gweedore almost put the show off the road. But I persevered.
Climbing off was an option in my darker moments, but I was never going to stop of my own accord.
And when I rode up Skerries Main Street earlier today, every turn of the pedals over the 1,200km which is the Rás, was worth it. That my wife, Irene, and sons, Ruairi and David, were at the finish made it all that more special.
I am dedicating my Rás medal to the family of the late Danny Murray from Letterkenny. Danny sadly passed away earlier this week. He was a great cycling man and someone who was always so supportive and helpful to me in my early days of cycling.
Danny was foremost in my thoughts this morning as I got ready to ride. I'm sure he was looking down on me today...
The messages of support and good wishes I was inundated with are much appreciated. My support crew and fellow riders also played their part in making the last week an adventure I will never forget.
Life is for living. Today I earned my third Rás medal. It is the one I cherish most. At 41, it is also my last.
I am what I wanted to be today.
I am a Man of the Rás.
Over and out.