There are 10km to go, a lone rider in green and blue takes the corner and accelerates. Total commitment. The group of chasers follows some 1min 45 sec behind. Some of the best talent on 2 wheels pushing hard to catch the leader. But the solo rider hangs on to take victory by 40 seconds. A classy victory. Now this isn’t some pro race in a far off place. This is stage 1 of the 2013 Gorey 3-day and the rider is Phoenix’s very own Ali McCauley taking a famous victory. Ali would eventually finish 2nd to Dylan Foley of Irish development squad but Phoenix would be in thick of action for the entire weekend.
Getting to Gorey
With the cancellation of Tour of the North, and a few slots opening up, Ali and Marcel Kock had opportunity to boost the Phoenix team of Joe Henry, Mike Millar and John Rooney with club captain Jay Gault driving team car. Conditions where not going to be easy for any of the riders, a cold easterly breeze ensured that gilets/arm/leg warmers where order of the day.
Stage 1 saw Marcel getting into the early breakaway of 8 riders and working hard to stay away from the bunch. With about 30km to go, Ali was in a bunch of 12 which bridged across. Shortly after Ali made his break and after some hesitation in bunch got significant gap. But despite the efforts of chasers Ali hung on to take the win and leaders jersey.
Easter Sunday would see two stages, a 6.4km individual time trial followed by road stage (4 times round 24km circuit). In the TT, Ali lost 37 seconds to Mark Downey (Irish Devleopment squad) but managed to hold onto yellow jersey by 2 seconds from Dylan Foley. All 5 Phoenix team put in powerful rides with Marcel establishing his place in top 20.
Leaving it all on the road
With many riders close in GC and very strong teams, both Irish and continental, it was always going to be a big ask for Phoenix guys to defend the yellow. But the team stepped up. However in final phase of race a break of 3 broke clear with Velo Club Eckwershein (France) taking 1st and 3rd place separated by Dylan O’Brien(Irish development squad) in 2nd. Behind the front three, Dylan Foley broke clear of the chasing group containing Ali and took GC by 14 seconds.
However Phoenix where still in the mix in final stage and had 2nd place on podium to defend. For those further down classification, Stage 4 was survival but a fast start resulting in riders quickly getting shelled out the back. After a hard stage with alot of aggressive riding, the yellow jersey showed his strength to get away and take second place behind John Noel Wolf (Velo Club Eckwershein). With Ali finishing in following bunch, Phoenix team had done enough to hold on to 2nd place. Marcel finished in 15th, Mike 72nd, Joe 122nd and John 131st. The team placed 10th in team classification.
Congratulations to the Phoenix team on a tough but successful weekends racing. To come away with 2nd place in GC up against some of the best young talent in the country is a fantastic result.
Phoenix would like to thank to promoting club Usher Irish Road Club and all the organizers, marshalls and helpers for putting on a top event. Our thanks also to all the other clubs and individuals who gave their support and to team down in Gorey.
Full results available here: http://irishroadclub.com/index.php/stage_races
Photos and some great video highlights available here: http://www.facebook.com/BlackUmbrellaProductions