The last few weeks have seen a few races, notably the Orwell 2 Day where Neil managed to get 15th overall, he just missed the break on stage three, if that had worked out it would have been a lot better. Still a few days later and he drives to Fermoy to participate in the Cork Champs. A great ride he won the race in a two man break with Sean Barrett from Kanturk O’Leary Stone, who at the same time won the Junior title.
Neil rode in the Crotty Cup on Saturday the 11th of May. The oldest race on the Irish calendar. The A3 riders were given an 8 minute head start and it took all of 120KM of the 132 KM race to catch them. Two riders got away and took the Prize. Neil also made a break for it and came in 4th.
It has been a few weeks since the last finished race. Missing a weekend with a cold then going to the Ras Mumhan and being brought down on the first stage and bruising the knee. The Kanturk Three Day was therefore the first race in three weeks. Hoping for some good results, in the end form was not good and Neil gradually improved over the weekend to finally get a second place on the fourth and last 120KM stage. Well done to Stephen Gillman on the win.
Neils Third A1 and A2 race was on a dreadfull day with very cold bitter conditions. They went off hard and the race split into three groups by the end of the first sixteen KM. Neil was in group two and after 70KM pulled out as he could not feel his hands anymore and the chase was never going to catch the elite guys further up the road.
Race winner was
1. Sean Hahessy – Dan Morrisey-MIG.ie-Pactimo
2. Conor Hennebry – Dan Morrisey-MIG.ie-Pactimo
3. Jamie Blanchfield – Panduit Carrick Wheelers
The Junior and A3 race was a one two for Kanturk with Tom Moriarty taking the win.
Second race as an A2 was the Des Hanlon race. We left early on Saturday to drive to county Kilkenny where we stayed the night as the 750KM round trip in the one day would have been a bit much.
The Des Hanlon is an Irish classic and there was a field of 140 riders. With three laps of a tough circuit making the race 130KM. There were many breaks with guys going “up the road” but in the end like last week Conor Hennebry was again the winner, with about twelve riders coming in first. Neil was somewhere between 30th and 40th looking at the photos. Not a bad ride as the best riders of the country were all there.
Watch two clips of the A1 A2 race here
Lap one A1 and A2 #beara #allihies #kilarneycyclingclub #bike #cycling #cyclingireland #race #velo #ireland #irlande #irlanda #irland #huntwheels #planetx #cyclisme #quarq #training #carlowroadcyclingclub #deshanlonmemorial #classic
The junior race was won in fine style by Aaron Wade who broke away clear at the start of the first big hill on their two lap race. He was later joined by Kevin another of his team mates. They won on their own, great ride.
Neil has now moved up to A2 which means most of his races in the next few months will be with A1 and A2 riders. The North Tipperary Road Race was held on a 40 KM circuit starting and finishing in Cloughjordan. Three laps of this flattish circuit on a cold Sunday afternoon.
Three men went away from the bunch early and stayed away for half the race until the bunch decided to work hard to catch them. At the beginning of the third lap there was a chasing bunch including Neil that managed to close the gap.
In the end two riders came in a few seconds before the small bunch which included Neil. Neil got twelfth place, which is a good result for his first race at this level.
Conor Hennebry Dan Morrissey-MIG-Pactimo
Jamie Blanchfield Panduit Carrick Wheelers
Keith Gater Waterford Racing
Conor Kissane Killarney Cycling Club
The NTW Open Road Race A1 A2
The A3 and Junior race was won by Archie Ryan an old team mate of Neil, he rode away from the bunch to win solo. Great effort.
Watch a short clip of the A3 race passing by
A3 and junior race 80 km done 40 to go. #beara #allihies #kilarneycyclingclub #bike #cycling #cyclingireland #race #velo #ireland #irlande #irlanda #irland #huntwheels #planetx #NTW #northtipperarywheelers #cloughjordan
On Patrick’s Day the Tom Sheehan Memorial A3 and Junior Race was run over five laps of a 20KM circuit near Carrick on Suir. It is a classic race that has been won by some illustrious riders, including the current top man, Sam Bennett. To get there from Allihies is a 550KM round trip, so we left on Saturday and stayed in Blarney with some friends. Neil deliberately missed a race on Saturday as he wasn’t feeling his best on Friday, deciding instead to save himself for the Tom Sheehan event. This turned out to be a wise choice as he subsequently went on to win the Tom Sheehan race in fine style. A break went away on lap one and it got a two minute lead before anybody seemed to feel the need to chase. The break was eventually caught though and on the start of the last lap Neil and four other riders broke away.
On the last corner coming into the steep uphill finish, Neil powered on and came home with a good few bike lengths for First place. Neil needed fifth place in the race to move up to an A2 race license. Neil now has 19 points from his two races this year. His next race will be with the A1 and A2 riders so it will be longer and faster. A great start to the season.
The first four in the winning break were
Neil Hodges Killarney CC
Alex Sparrow Bandon CC
Bernard Sweeney Killorglin CC
Conor Coleman Panduit Carrick Wheelers
Some reworked photos of the race
Neil now has 19 points from his two races this year. His next race will be with the A1 and A2 riders so it will be longer and faster. A great start to the season.
Tom Sheehan Memorial A3 and Junior Race
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Neil started his 2019 season with a second place in the A3 and Junior Ras Luimni race, which starts in the County Limerick village of Caherconlish. The race was organised by Limerick Cycling Club, and held over three laps of a 30KM circuit. The weather conditions were not very nice with plenty of wind and rain. At the end of lap one a break of seven riders had formed including Neil. Half way through the lap Neil and Jason Kenny from UCD had forged on ahead and that is the way it ended with a comfortable 2 minute gap. Jason got the better of Neil at the end of the last lap and came in a good ten seconds ahead of Neil.
So Neil who is now riding for Killarney Cycling Club has 9 points from one race and needs 6 more to move up to an A2 licence. Jason Kenny had already won a race earlier in the season so already moves up to A2.
Ras Luimni A3 and Junior Race
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West Cork had a good showing at the traditional end of season Charleville 2 day stage race.
The main A2/A3 race took place over two days and three stages. On Saturday there was an 80km road race where Neil was 24 seconds behind the winner, but importantly at the same time as nearly every other rider. On Sunday morning the 6KM time trial was run and Neil was in the top twenty times.
Watch a short video here….
Charleville two Day Stage race 2018
Neil, Jeremy Canty and Tom Shanahan at the end of the race.
Stage three was a tough climbers circuit of 90KM and Neil went hard on the climbs and ended up in a three man break. They had a 38 second lead at the end and importantly the third place rider Tom Shanahan from Limerick was two seconds slower than Neil which meant that Neil was the winner on General Classification by only one second.
The rider who won the stage was Jeremy Canty from Bantry riding for Bandon Cycling Club.
In the A4 race Den Bat O’Sullivan was in the winning team for the race, De Ronde Cycling club from Cork city.
Well Neil’s second go at Gorey and what a story. Riding for the Munster team again which had seven riders. Unfortunately two dropped out on day one so the team was left with Tom O’Connor and Neil Hodges from Kanturk O’Leary Stone, Jamie O’Donoghue from Kilarney cycling club, Sean Lynch from Cork County cycling club and Pat Sheehan from Sliabh Luachra. Lot’s of training and extra experience one year on. So a good first stage riding strongly to finish with the bunch. A few lads up the road with over a minute lead. But finishing same time as most riders.
Second day had the time trial and 99 KM road race. The time trial was not too bad and made up some time on other riders bringing him up the GC rankings. A few lads with some very top class Time Trial bikes made it hard for others to be competitive, maybe fairer if all riders at this level had to use the same bike for all stages…
The road race some some aggressive riding with a group finishing ahead of the main bunch, Neil was chasing this group with an other rider so got 50 seconds advantage on the main bunch which put him into 14th position on GC.
Third day the weather was terrible and the bunch finished together with most riders getting same time as winner. The 14th place on GC was held and the race was over. These stage races really make for great races and interesting weekends. The next one will be the Kanturk Three day beginning of May. Between then and now though a few Sunday races.
Gorey Three Day Race 2018
Watch a short video here
All the photos from the Weekend
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