After a strong start to the Cáirde Rás Tailteann, the Isle of Man suffered a challenging day out on stage 2.
While James Harrison, Corrin Leeming, and Mark Horsthuis finished strongly for the team, both Adam Kelly and Niall Quiggin suffered heavy crashes with Adam ultimately forced to quit the race. Mark also crashed in the same incident as Adam but was able to remount his bike and return to the race.
James lost some time in the under 23 category but is still placed fourth overall at 1:37 behind the category leader, while Corrin is in 13th place equal on time with James. Meanwhile, the Isle of Man has slipped to eighth overall in the team classification.
Stage 2 of the Cáirde Rás Tailteann brought the riders further west across Ireland from Horse and Jockey and Castleisland. The 154-kilometre stage began flat but ended with some brutal climbs as the riders looped around and into Castleisland, in front of some huge crowds.
It was another fast start for the riders with the peloton averaging some 50kph over the first hour of racing. Though it relented as the race went on, the pace was still very high, and the day ended ahead of schedule with an average speed of 43.9kph.
With twisting and often narrow roads, there were several crashes in the early part of the race. Adam came down in a large pile-up as the race passed through Tipperary Town. He picked up some abrasions in the incident, but he also hit his head and after he suffered from some blurred vision it was decided to pull Adam from the race.
Adam was checked over by the race doctor for a suspected concussion, but he showed no further symptoms. However, the team will continue to monitor his condition over the coming days.
Though the bunch was whittled down by the crashes, the race pushed on apace with attacks flying off the front of the bunch. However, riders found it difficult to get away with the early part of the race on comparatively flat roads.
It wasn’t until the final ascent of the day, a second category climb at Crags Cave, that a significant move was able to go clear. Louis David Sutton of the Brocar-Ale team attacked towards the top of the short climb and quickly built up a gap that would prove to be enough for the victory.
James and Corrin were not far behind and crossed the line in the first major group behind Sutton, just 1:37 behind, finishing 15th and 35th respectively. Meanwhile, Mark finished in another group soon after at 3:09 behind the stage winner.
Niall had been part of the main peloton as it approached the climbing sector of the course but crashed heavily when another rider fell in front of him. Despite losing a lot of time as he waited for a new wheel — as the team car was still making its way back to the group after taking care of Adam — Niall battled on to the finish.
He suffered several cuts and abrasions as a result of the crash, including one from a chainring, and was treated by the race’s medical staff at the end of the race. Niall will start stage 3 and his condition will continue to be assessed.