Report by Tommy CampbellDamien Shaw of Aquablue joined an illustrious club yesterday when he won the Kerry Group Ras Mumhan by the narrowest margins in its history. Four seconds separated the Westmeath man from his closest rival Harry Sweering from Holland when the race ended after four exciting days in the province of Munster. Both Shaw and Sweering had the distinction of wearing the yellow jersey.

Shaw led the charge last Friday when he won the opening stage of this classic event. The following day he lost out to the Dutchman only for Shaw to jump back into the driving seat on Sunday. The final stage which started and finished in Killorglin yesterday was nail biting. For a time it looked as though the Westmeath man had squandered his opportunity to stay the distance. Help was at hand when his team colleague Timmy Barry whipped up the action to chase down Sweering’s breakaway group who had put daylight between the break and the main bunch.

In the end it was Barry’s efforts that won the day for Shaw. “Yes, it went down to the wire. Timmy’s effort to minimise the advantage of Sweering to a manageable level won the day. It is great for me and I am thankful that I am going home with the trophy and the prize money. I have to admit that it was a close call. I suppose in a way it was early to take the lead on Friday. I was aware that there was a quality field and the visitors were not here to make up the numbers. The Dutch and the English teams were very active in the four days of racing. In a way I suppose making the junction to the leaders on the road on Sunday was the winning move in my mind. Cycling is a sport where you need support when the chips are down and the team were not left wanting. It is great to be part of the Aquablus team,” said Damien as he went off to celebrate his new found fame. He only took up serious cycling three years ago.

The final stage over 43 kilometers in the general area of Killorglin/Beaufort/Killorglin was an action packed event and in the end it went right wire. For four days it was all go when on Friday last 194 made the start. That followed two days over many of the top climbs in the Cork area and Kerry. Weather conditions were pretty good but on Sunday it turned real sour with a big drop out because of the conditions. The general view it was an eye opener and more than likely it will be added advantages in the months ahead. Most of the participants had their minds and ears focussed on the upcoming events in the near future. Particularly the An Post Ras.

Race organiser Mary Conncannon was full of praise for the magnificent turnout. “Unfortunately, I could not organise the weather. Yet we came through the event unscathed. It is important that we deliver on behalf of our sponsor Kerry Group. It is fantastic to have them as the title sponsor and long they may continue. Fair play to Damien Shaw. It must have been nerve wrecking for him. He had in my eyes sewn up the race. But, cycling is unique sport and in a way it is not over until you crossed over the finishing line. I am along with the team going to take a break and in a months time we will be back to make arrangements for next year. We are fortunate that we have subsidiary sponsors who we thank sincerely. Also I would like to pay a big thank you to the Gardai”.
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