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FEATURE I PRO-CYCLING IN IRELAND


exchanges a momentary glance with his man. Their eyes meet. Kurt needs to see the eyes for proof but the drool on Archbold’s chin coupled with his bloodshot pupils give his sorry state away. “I’m f***ed,” offers Archbold, as he looks down and shakes his head in disgust. Kurt is still giving him the eyes. “The race is over if we don’t do something….You must get back in the group (which is disappearing from sight up ahead) and give me an effort hard as you can up the Tunnel Road.” “How far away is that?,” quizzes Archbold. “20k to the bottom (even though it’s closer to 25), hard as you can up it. We have to bring the break back.” I’m doing a quick math myself and it becomes apparent that yes; dire situation equals drastic measure. Archbold must not only get back into the front group, but go to the front of same and try to bring back the break – which his teammate is in. Even though he has been distanced. Kurt knows it’s shit or bust so he deploys Robert-Jon, Downey and Doull for duty at the front – though the latter two must be used sparingly as they’re still in with an outside chance of overall victory. Archbold puts on his gloves, takes the mother of all wing-mirror slings and he’s rocketing back up to the front group like a man late for a job interview.


1’ 10” is now the gap and Kurt is growing anxious. He drops a gear and rips up the outside of the cavalcade and front group en route to Wilson in the break. There, buried in the lineout, is their man tapping through.


“You do not ride one metre in front. You slow it down,” yelps Kurt.


“One minute between break and front group, gap falling”, barks the commissaire over race radio. “Come aaaaan,” enthuses Kurt. The plan is working. Archbold did as he was told. We pull in between the break and front group and Bogaerts does his own manual calculation. The commissaires had it spot on but Kurt is a glass half-full type, “40 seconds,” he roars at the now Archbold- led chase group. My respect for the Kiwi soars. He’s absolutely dying, but he did as he was told.


“Some men becoming distanced from the tail end of the chase,” comes the next dispatch from race radio. Kurt straightens up just a little. We start the Tunnel Road climb and more county men get dumped out the back. I can see county rider and first year college student Sean Hahessy suffering like a dog but hanging in there. Former An Post rider Denis Dunworth has had enough and calls it a day but there are plenty more like him. Then we see Archbold get shelled, barely moving, swinging wildly and it’s clear he is not getting back on now. Kurt gives him a jacket. Hell, he’ll need it today.


No time to hang around for condolence, however.


Robert-Jon is now lighting it up on the most difficult part of the climb. The gap is down to 30 seconds and the Irish-born Australian is driving it so hard he’s shedding more and more men out the tail of the


January 2015 I Cycling World


27


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