Stage 3 Preview
The only certainty regarding Day 3 of the Kerry Group Ras Mumhan is that the stage in South Kerry will be highly exciting.
Sponsored by IRD Waterville Ltd this stage has seen heroic solo rides and tremendous bunch finishes after 155km around some of the most scenic parts of the world.
And if the 155km is not enough to test the legs of even the best riders in the Ras then the only Category 1 climb at Coom An Easpaig will certainly do so.
However there is a lot of racing to do before the riders reach the foot of the Coom. Starting in Waterville the race heads for Ballinskelligs and then onto Valentia Island which was not on the route last year.
The climb to the top of the island is certainly a tester while the super -fast decent tests the riders in a different discipline. On the narrow Valentia Island roads there is little room for overtaking in the peloton and neutral service at the front of the race can be very important as it is virtually impossible on the climb to get team cars out of the cavalcade.
Going on and coming off the island are good places for the fans to see the action rather than on Valentia itself. Many will chose to stay in Portmagee as the race comes back again to the town so it is possible to see the riders three times without leaving the picturesque village.
The riders come back across the bridge at Portmagee and the race heads for Caherciveen. The sight of the main body of the race speeding through the town is one of the sights of the Kerry Group Ras but can also be a heart stopping few minutes for the officials as traffic and pedestrians crossing at the wrong time can lead to tricky situations so be aware of the times the Ras is expected and give it the room it needs.
As the Kerry Group Ras Mumhan passes Coars thoughts will turn to the late Iron Man Mike Murphy who was always on hand to wave the riders past until his death. There is a Prime at his house sponsored by the Merrion Group, one that all riders like to win. Over the top and there is a fast decent and tight right hand turn as Dromid is the next area they pass through.
New Chapel Cross always draws big crowds as the Ras passes the Church twice and on this occasion the riders are heading for Portmagee and onto Coom an Easpaigh where Pauline Sugrue Auctioneers sponsors the Prime and the King of the Hills award.
Going up will test the riders as will the decent into The Glen which is fast and technical and will give the non-climbers the chance to pull back time as will the race from here to the finish in Waterville.
With the sharp turn into the town and the short sprint to the line Waterville is the place to be on Easter Sunday afternoon and whatever rider takes the win and the Eamon Scully Cup will, as always, deserve it.
Cycling legend Philip Cassidy has said that this is the “finest road stage in cycling” and who are we to argue with him. Those at the front of GC after this day will have their sights on the overall win while others will just be delighted to be still in the race.