By Brian Canty (Stickybottle.com)
Ryan Sherlock (Iverk Produce-Carrick Wheelers) was so disappointed he could hardly speak at the finish of the ‘Kerry Group Ras Mumhan’ in Killorglin today after he was denied the overall win in one of the biggest home races of the season in the cruelest possible way.
From the elation of taking the yellow jersey on Sunday, the rail-thin Monaghan man lost it in the closing stages today after Dennis Bakker (Ruiter Dakkapellen) won the final leg when he escaped in a break going onto the finishing circuits and made it all the way.
Sherlock did not know his close rival was up the road, and sat comfortably in the bunch until he was told with eight kilometres to go that his leader’s jersey was in jeopardy.
Bakker started the day in third overall, 44 seconds down, but on the closing circuit laps of Killorglin his gap to Sherlock’s group fluctuated around the one minute mark – enough to make Bakker the leader on the road.
As soon as Sherlock very belatedly found out the lead was slipping from his grasp he went to the front, drilling a relentless pace, and seemed to have done enough to wrestle back the jersey.
However, he crashed on the second last bend and lost valuable seconds. With Bakker collecting a five second time-bonus for first man over the line, the 18-year-old took his biggest ever result while a battered and bloody yellow jersey came home soon after.
A despondent Sherlock was clearly gutted at the finish when he spoke to stickybottle.
“It’s an opportunity lost and I deserved better,” he said.
“I rode a lot over the last couple of days. I made the race and then just to not get the spoils at the end is disappointing. But that’s just how it works out. My team rode really well for the first 70 or 80k and had it set up pretty well. They covered a bunch of moves but one of the moves went away and I didn’t think it was any of the guys who were in contention. That white jersey (Bakker) had a cape over his kit so I didn’t know he was up the road until about two laps to go and then I tried to chase him down and I went a bit too full gas on the second last corner and hit a wall.”
Sherlock tried a frantic recruitment drive for others to help him close the gap but that came to nought, something he clearly wasn’t happy about.
“My team-mates rode their legs off but we got no help from anyone. There was one other guy alright but that was it. It’s very disappointing.”
Having been bettered for the second year in-a-row on the Saturday stage up the Connor Pass, and finishing third yesterday after he fluffed his lines on the finish into Waterville, Sherlock showed admirable courage in eschewing the positives.
“I still have two big goals left in the Rás and the National Championships and hopefully I can get a proper team after that.”
In the background as he spoke, Bakker high-fived his management and toasted his win with team mates, one of whom was Bram Imming who left the race behind him last year when he missed the crucial split on the final day.
Bakker said that Imming spoke to the team yesterday morning and told them they were not leaving without the yellow jersey this time – their first in 49 years of coming to the race.
“This is my first stage win with elite riders and it’s great to win a GC too,” beamed Bakker.
“I am really happy. This morning we saw it was raining and I knew I was strong; I was really strong yesterday too. But when I saw it was raining, I knew there were some possibilities on this circuit and I gave the best I had and it was enough.”
Bakker, who was leading the U23 classification going into this morning’s fourth and final stage, got up the road at the start of the finishing circuits in Killorglin in a three man group that included Sean McFadden (LK Bikes Donegal) and Silvan Buis (West Frisia)
They managed to stay off the front despite some hard chasing behind in the wet conditions.
Bakker then attacked his two breakaway companions in the closing stages to take a great win and secure enough time on those behind to lift this year’s GC title.
Both Sherlock and DID Dunboyne’s Daniel Clifford tried to get across to the leaders when it became clear the chase in the bunch behind wasn’t making any inroads into the gap of those upfront.
However, those efforts came to nothing and Bakker grabbed his chance with both hands.
Sherlock finished second overall with Colin Parry (Primal Europe) maintaining his third on GC. Parry and former yellow jersey and stage 2 winner Mark Dowling (DID Dunboyne) were clear in a group of eight riders earlier in the stage before the race moved onto the Killorglin finishing circuit. However, that gap was closed down and Sherlock and his team mates looked as though they had it under control until Bakker and the other two riders took flight with Sherlock unaware of the danger until it was far too late.