Before I review the 2019 Kerry Group Ras Mumhan I want to pay tribute to the organisers and volunteers who once again gave up their Easter weekend to ensure this race – arguably the biggest in the country this year – went off without a hitch.
Once again it was a pleasure to be a small part of the Ras and I want to thank the media outlets I work for – Radio Kerry and Kerry’s Eye and all the other media for the coverage including RTE as its a wonderful endorsement of the event to have it featured on the RTE Sports News.
This year we introduced Live Streaming to the Kerry Group Ras Mumhan in conjunction with Full Time Productions. During these streams we had comments from as far afield as the US, from a number of European countries and of course all over the country. If you watched our coverage, either live or when you had a moment, enjoyed our coverage please send us a message.
Keep and eye out later on in the year when we will be posting some highlights of the Ras.
But for now here is my review of a wonderful 4 days of cycle racing at its best where the true meaning of sport was on show – elite sportsmen battling each other and the clock to take the coveted Kerry Group Ras Mumhan in an event organised by a group of people whose dedication to putting on the best event they can is a joy to see.
This is why a world wide company like Kerry Group puts its name to the Ras and to the company and all the individual sponsors well done on supporting what can now be justifiably called a Kerry sporting institution.
The 2019 Race Review
The 2019 Kerry Group Ras Mumhan proved to be one of the most competitive to date with 152 riders starting the first day with hopes of taking the winner Yellow Jersey 500km later.
Going into Day 4 Ben Healy (Cycling Ireland) held a 41 second lead after a great day around South Kerry on Stage 3. And the teenager was comfortable all day on the stage in the main bunch staying out of trouble. A group of 18 riders were away at one stage but slowly all were reeled in bar JB Murphy (Cycling Leinster) and Dan Morrissey rider Sean Hassessy. And they finished the stage in that order with Murphy sprinting clear on the hill in Killorglin on the last of the 10 laps.
But it was Healy, surrounded by his teammates including Killarney’s Conor Kissane, that was that happiest at the winning what was his first ever senior stage race.
The Story of the first three days:
Ribble Pro Cycling the opening day winners:
Day 1was the annual 100km race around Mid and East Kerry starting and finishing in the events host town of Killorglin. And it was the UK’s Ribble Pro team that were the big winners on the day. Alex Luhrs from, the Lake District took the win and the first yellow jersey of the weekend with his team mate Daniel Bingham in second and Ben Healy of the Irish team in third. They went clear after Firies and built up a lead of 1.41 over a group of 20.
From a Kerry point of view Cork man Paidi O’Brien took 9th with Conor Kissane who is on Team Ireland in 13th and Richard Maes, Strata 3-Velorevolution in 21st with all three on the same time.
Killarney’s Patrick Clifford (Team Pink which is the second Strata team) had a good day taking the Category 2 leaders Blue Jersey.
Dutchman digs deep on Day 2:
Stage 2 from Listowel to Athea saw the peloton cross the Limerick border for another day of fast paced racing over 130km with speeds often topping 55km per hour. While many riders made attempts to get away from a big lead group none of these were successful and so we had a bunch sprint of over 30 riders at the end of the stage.
And on the line Dutchman Mathew Overste (Combilift-West Frisia) took the stage for Paidi O’Brien. Luhrs was comfortably in the lead bunch along with Bingham and they held onto the Leaders and Polka Dot (King of the Mountains) jerseys.
The Category 2 leader’s jersey stayed on Kerry shoulders with Killorglin’s Tomas Walsh taking over from Clifford.
Mark and Ben Tame the Queen Stage:
The sun of day two was replaced with a little drizzle on day three but it didn’t detract from a great day’s racing. For much of the day the Ribble Pro Cycling boys controlled the race and any breakaways were pulled back.
But once again it was the Category 1 climb of Coomaneaspaig that blew the race right open. Former winner of this race Mark Dowling (Cycling Lenister) and 18 year old Ben Healy, who was third on GC overnight and only 7 seconds down on the leader, went over the top together.
And in a mouth-watering display of descending the duo soon had a lead of nearly a minute from a group of 7 that included the Yellow jersey.
The climb and descent of St Finians Bay didn’t halt the duo’s progress and with 10km to go the gap was still 1 minute. Defending champion Conor Hennebry made a valiant attempt to get across but had to settle for third.
Dowling took the stage with Healy a smiling second knowing he had ridden into Yellow with just one stage to go. Luhrs and his group game in next but were over 40 seconds down on the leading two. So Healy, who was born in Birmingham of Waterford parents, now leads by 41secponds while Alex Luhrs has the consolation of wearing the Green Points jersey. Dan Bigham holds onto the Polka Dot KOM jersey. Sadly from a local point of view the A2 jersey left Kerry shoulders with Cian May of Team Leinster now leading that category. Killarney men Richard Maes (Strata) and Conor Kissane (Team Ireland) ended the day 11th and 12th overall.
Where the Jersey’s ended up:
Stage 4 Winner (Paddy O’Callaghan Memorial Cup) JB Murphy: Cycling Leinster
Yellow Jersey and U23 Winner (Donal McKenna Cup): Ben Healy Cycling Ireland
First Kerry Rider home (winning the Paul O’Shea Cup) Richard Maes Strata3 Velorevelution in 11th just one place ahead of Connor Kissane
King of the Hills for the Polka Dot Jersey: Daniel Bingham: Team Ribble Pro
Points Green Jersey : Alex Luhrs: Team Ribble Pro
Category 2 Blue Jersey: Cian May: Cycling Leinster.