Easter Sunday – Queen Stage – South Kerry
South Kerry the place to be on Easter Sunday for the Queen Stage:
There are some days in the calendar that are connected to their sports. Easter Sunday and the Kerry Group Ras Mumhan in South Kerry is one of those annual occasions.
Stage 3, for the Eamon Scully Cup won last year by Lawrence Carpenter of the Surrey League Team, is sponsored by IRD Waterville with the usual Primes from Pauline Sugrue Auctioneers and the Merrion Group, Dublin.
Cycling legend Philip Cassidy has said that this is the “finest road stage in cycling” and who are we to argue with him. And this 157km challenge, taking in some of the most scenic roads in the country, certainly deserves its name as the Queen Stage of the Ras.
(If like me you had to look up the origin of that expression here it is- The Queen Stage comes from chess where the Queen is the most powerful piece and has the biggest effect on the game. Therefore the Queen Stage is the one that is supposed to have the biggest effect on a race!).
The Stage starts and finishes in Waterville and goes through the village of Portmagee, the base for the Star Wars crew when filming on the near- by Skellig Michael, onto and off of Valentia Island via the bridge and through Caherciveen passing the birthplace of The Liberator Daniel O’Connell.
As the race climbs out of the town it will pass the home of the late, great and unique Iron Man Mick Murphy before the steep decent to the right hand turn at Dromid and then it heads back to Portmagee again ahead of the famed Category 1 Coom An Easpaig climb. Going up is tough but so is the fast decent into The Glen. As the riders get to Ballinskelligs things should be taking shape with those looking for a stage win and / or looking to finish the day high enough up the GC to challenge for yellow on the final day will need to be at the front.
The race speeds back into Waterville and around the sharp right-hander and onto the short finishing straight. And once all the riders are back we will have a much better idea of who remains in contention to win the 2018 Kerry Group Ras Mumhan the following day.