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18, 19 September 2004
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This weekend sees another running of one of the most popular 2 days in the UK or Ireland. This is an event which is extremely well-run and which has a history of exciting international fields competing around Dublin Airport on day 1 and then heading out into the countryside for the tough and rolling day2.
This year, as in previous years, the event takes place over 2 days, three stages. Stage 1 comprises 8 laps of an 8km circuit. The circuit is flat, but can be very tough if the wind blows. The back of the circuit, especially past Boot Inn can have poor surface, nothing to detract from the racing, but something for riders to be aware of. The ride up the R122 road is slightly uphill and is usually where the headwind is to be found. There are some gentle bends to break up what is otherwise a long, straight road. After a tight turn at a roundabout, the final kilometre (of the lap) is fast, slightly downhill and runs parallel to the runway at Dublin airport. This stage usually finishes with a sprint between a handful of breakaways.
Stage 2 is a tough time trial. Although only 2km, it runs in the opposite direction to the morning's lap and utilises the final 2km of the lap. It is therefore a gentle uphill and it is straight, so riders are almost able to see the finish from the start. The time trial is truly a test of skill against the clock - an ill-measured effort can be disastrous for position on GC.
Stage 3 takes place on Sunday morning. It runs 74km through the countryside. There is an "urban myth" about the hills on this course, which makes the stage seem fearsome to those who have not ridden it before. Certainly, the final two climbs are long and seem to steepen halfway up, but there are also a couple of lesser climbs to be negotiated before the final sorting takes place. The pace is usually quite restrained on Stage 3 until the field passes over the M! motorway and the road goes up - this is when the attacks take place and those in contention for jerseys will make their moves. The rest of the field will be split into groups which work together to get back to the finish losing as little time as possible.
There is a string Dutch contingent to this year's race with regular competitors from the teams managed by Chris Rouw (Team Movingladies Groenewoud) and Hermann Schenk (W.V. Alcmaria Victrix) making their return to the race for yet another year. Whilst WV Alcmaria Victrix tends to be a less experienced team, with development riders included, Sharon van Esson from Team Movingladies could be a contender for the overall victory. She has performed well in this race in previous years. Similarly, the RC Charlottenburg team usually provides a strong, top 10 performance in this event.
Team Ireland has 2 teams entered. Team A includes Collette Swift and Louise Moriarty, both experienced riders who competed in the "B" Worlds last year and who will be representing Ireland in the full World Championships in Italy next week. Also in the team is Julie O'Hagan, who took the Irish RR title this year. If they ride well together, this team could dominate the racing and do well overall. Team B has some strength too - Roisin Kennedy and Giallian McDarby have ridden for Ireland on several occasions now.
Local representative teams from Ireland and Northern Ireland and the UK teams have some notable performers who will put in solid performances. Whilst at the lower end of the field, there are some riders who will not figure in the GC, but who will give it everything over the weekend to compete and finish in this unique event.
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