A trademark attacking effort from Joe Barr among the solo riders in Race Around Ireland was still paying dividends as night set in on day two of Ireland’s epic cycling adventure.
The Ulster veteran continued to set a relentless pace as the riders approached the halfway point at Quin, Co Clare. With almost 30 hours in the saddle, Barr was trading blows with Czech star Svaťa Božák, the lead pair riding within a few kilometres of each other with Austrian Stefan Schrenk a mere eight km behind in third.
Migg Scherrer is fourth on the road, approximately 30km behind Schrenk in the battle for third and the lead quartet have drawn a significant distance ahead of the rest of the solo bikes.
Tandem pairing Peter Ryan and Seán Hahessy have recovered from the mechanical issues which delayed them on the first night to charge through the to lie fifth of the solo bikes and still on target to become the first ever tandem pair to finish Europe’s most daunting road race.
The next eight solo bikes are covered by a mere 30km but with the mountain challenges in Kerry and Wicklow still a long way in the distance much is yet to to change.
Ahead of the solos on the road, there is a terrific scrap in the four-rider class which has been led throughout, albeit by a small margin, by Trim Cycling Team with the first four teams covered by less than 25km and at least five teams still very much in the hunt for honours.
Still in the mix at the moment are Team Indreni Think Lawlors, Team Breffni Wheelers, Over the Hill CC and Rossbury Racing and this one is too tight to call. Watch this space.
Among the two-rider teams, ‘Team Can’t Do Hills’ have a comfortable advantage of around 90km over ‘Paul and Dave’ heading to Letterfrack.
The eight-rider squads are led by Meath Fireblazers, almost 100km ahead of a tight battle for second between Team Invictus and Team Spokes Women.
In the Irish Ultra Challenge, Philip Cuthbert is the lead rider heading for Galway where the routes of the two events diverge. Cuthbert has almost 65km advantage over Seán Hernon who is a further 50km ahead of third placed Noel Cusack.
76 riders ranging from solo competitors to eight-person teams have embarked on one of the most extraordinary sporting events on the Irish sporting calendar and among the daunting in the arcane world of ultrcycling.
Many of the world’s top marathon bike riders are among the competitors who left Meath on Sunday afternoon at the start of their 2,150km epic circumference of Ireland, a unique event which, for the riders and the crew calls for extreme levels of stamina.
Race Around Ireland is non-stop race where competitors sleep if and when they need it. It, and its junior sibling event The Irish Ultra Challenge, are among the very toughest races on the world ultracycling calendar.
The challenging terrain of Race Around Ireland includes some of the hilliest and bumpiest road surfaces in any event on the calendar, a five-day circumference of Ireland that takes competitors to the very limits of human endurance.
This year’s event sends the riders through 22 of the 32 counties as it hugs the windswept coast from Meath through Newgrange, The Causeway Coast, Malin Head, The Cliffs of Moher, down the Wild Atlantic way to The Ring of Kerry, Mizen Head, the Garden County (Wicklow) and back to the finish line in Moynalty, County Meath.
And all within a week