RoryWyleyCycling Ireland President, veteran Dungarvan rider Rory Wyley (centre) of the Tipperary Dan Morrissey team makes his way up to the backbreakingly steep finish at the summit of Seskin Hill near Carrick-on-Suir during last Wednesday’s fourth leg of the 2010 FBD Insurance Rás.

The seven-day race, which featured a number of serious crashes, including a chaotic pile-up involving a jeep 30km from Carrick-on-Shannon last Monday which forced the abandonment of the stage, and some serious spills en route to Seskin, was won by Sweden’s Alexander Wetterhall (who at 24 is eighteen years Rory’s junior). Wyley had two colleagues well up in the best county rider classification – Paul Griffin, 3rd and John Dempsey, 5th – helping them to second in the county team standings.

After eight stages, Connor McConvey was the pick of the Irish, finishing fourth overall just 1min 45secs back – a stunning achievement considering the ex-mountain biker had never ridden a multi-day event until this year.

Also Best Young Rider (U23), he was part of a powerful performance by the An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Sean Kelly team, with King of the Mountains winner Mark Cassidy – boyfriend of Sean’s daughter Stacey – taking Saturday’s penultimate stage into Kilcullen.

Fully recovered from a horrific crash last December and now riding for VC La Pomme in Marseilles, Carrick’s Sam Bennett missed the Rás but will ride the Under-23 version of the Paris-Roubaix before heading to Canada for the U23 Nations Cup along with Dublin-based Philip Lavery (son of well-known Waterford man Tosh) and McConvey.

Meanwhile, it was announced on Tuesday that this year’s Tour of Ireland has been cancelled due to the economic downturn. Apparently €1.5m is needed to finance the event, though I’d have thought that would be relatively small money in terms of the tourism spin-off and local spend at a time when the industry is on its knees?

| Photo: Joe Cashin