Cycling Club Isle of Man endured a battling day on the second stage of the Cáirde Rás Tailteann on Thursday.
After a strong start on the opening day when James Harrison and Adam Kelly sprint to top-10 finishes, it was a different story on stage two.
While Harrison, Corrin Leeming, and Mark Horsthuis finished strongly for the team, both Kelly and Niall Quiggin suffered heavy crashes, with Kelly ultimately forced to quit the race. Horsthuis also crashed in the same incident as Kelly but thankfully was able to remount his bike and return to the race.
Harrison lost some time in the under-23 category but is still placed fourth overall at 1m 37s behind the category leader, while Corrin is 13th level on time with him. Overall though, the Isle of Man has slipped to eighth in the team classification.
Stage two brought the riders further west across Ireland from Horse and Jockey and Castleisland. The 154-kilometre stage began flat but ended with some brutal climbs as the riders looped around and into Castleisland in front of some huge crowds.
It was another fast start for the riders, with the peloton averaging some 50kph over the first hour of racing. Though it relented as the race went on, the pace was still very high and the day ended ahead of schedule with an average speed of 43.9kph.
With twisting and often narrow roads, there were several crashes in the early part of the race.
Kelly came down in a large pile-up as the race passed through Tipperary Town. He picked up some abrasions in the incident but he also hit his head and, after he suffered from some blurred vision, it was decided to pull him from the race.
Kelly was checked over by the race doctor for a suspected concussion, but he showed no further symptoms. The team will continue to monitor his condition over the coming days.
Though the bunch was whittled down by the crashes, the race pushed on apace with attacks flying off the front of the bunch, but riders found it difficult to get away with the early part of the race on comparatively flat roads.
It wasn’t until the final ascent of the day, a second category climb at Crags Cave, that a significant move was able to go clear. Louis David Sutton of the Brocar-Ale team attacked towards the top of the short climb and quickly built up a gap that would prove to be enough for the victory.
Kelly and Leeming were not far behind and crossed the line in the first major group behind Sutton, only 1m 37s adrift finishing 15th and 35th respectively. Horsthuis finished in another group soon after at 3.09 behind the stage winner.
Quigginl had been part of the main peloton as it approached the climbing sector of the course but crashed heavily when another rider fell in front of him.
Despite losing a lot of time as he waited for a new wheel - as the team car was still making its way back to the group after taking care of Kelly - Niall battled on to the finish.
He suffered several cuts and abrasions as a result of the crash, including one from a chainring, and was treated by the race’s medical staff at the end of the race. Quiggin will start stage 3 and his condition will continue to be assessed.
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