Daniel Fleeman introduces the Irish stage race
Stage 4 An Post Rás: Westport to Bundoran
Race: An Post Rás
Profile- Ronan McLaughlin
Westport to Bundoran 135km 2hr 55min
Presented by Forme Coaching
Stage 4 of the An Post Rás was a fairly flat route but for some riders it was anything but boring. With an average speed of over 45kph for the entire stage the pace was fast from the start and stayed like that all the way to the finish in Bundoran. One rider was determined to escape the bunch and make up for the disappointment of crashing yesterday. Ronan McLaughlin was entering his home county of Donegal and his intentions were obvious when he lined up wearing a skinsuit, Aero helmet, Aero shoe covers and deep section wheels.
The first 5 minutes of the race saw Ronan hit his peak 5 minutes of the stage with a massive 420w. The fact that Ronan did his peak 1 min (564w), 2 min (498w) and 5 min powers all inside the first 3 miles of racing shows just how desperate he was to slip way.
The first 75 minutes of racing was ran off at 47kph which saw Ronan record a normalised power of 360w including 15+ attacks each of which peaked out at over 1000w. Finally after 60km of racing and still with 75km left to the finish in Bundoran the An-Post rider got free of the bunch and settled down to the job of holding off the charging peloton. Several riders tried to get across to the flying McLaughlin but the closest they got was 28 seconds and he seemed in no mood to wait around.
The first hour of his breakaway saw him tap out a hard but sustained 350w, settling into a good tempo and making the most of his Aero aids to average a massive 47kph. At this point he already had 2 and a half hours of racing with a NP of 355 in his legs.
After this most riders would really start to fatigue and the power would drop off massively but this is a rider who has a FTP of close to 400w or 5.9w/kg so by riding at around 85% of his threshold power he was able to sustain this incredible pace of kilometer after kilometer. With just 20km to go Ronan’s lead was less than 70 seconds which is much less than the magic 10 seconds per kilometer that most teams use as a bench mark to pull back breakaways.
The writing seemed to be on the wall but Ronan was not ready to give up so easily.
The An-Post team car pulled alongside several times and Kurt Bogaerts was seen offering lots of encouragement to help him keep pushing forwards. Those last 20km still had an average of 330w which showed that it was not a case of Ronan slowing down but the fresher legs inside the bunch working together to try and pull back the flying McLaughlin.
In fact at the 10Km to go mark Ronan had increased his lead slightly to 80 seconds and the stage victory looked like it would be touch and go. The pace stayed the same and Ronan’s one man time trial continued and then knowing the peloton would pick up its pace inside the final 3km he somehow managed to find the strength to pick up his own pace and average 360w for the final 5 minutes.
Sometimes cycling is a cruel sport and Ronan got to within 100m of pulling off one of the best performances of the Rás for years.
Slumping over the line still in 10th place and needing medical attention goes to show how deep one man was prepared to go to claim a victory in his home county.
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