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Daire Feeley, the Rás winner from two years ago, went into the 2024 edition as one of the key men to watch and didn’t give up without a fight (Photo: Sean Rowe)

By Shane Stokes

Starting the final stage just 32 seconds off the yellow jersey, Daire Feeley was one of the most aggressive riders on the final stage of the Rás Tailteann, going deep to try to chase stage success and a big GC performance.

The 2022 winner of the Rás was back after crashing out of last year’s title defence, and was prominent toward the end of Sunday’s concluder.

“Just as we were coming out to the finishing circuits, I started throwing as many grenades as possible,” he told stickybottle. “And eventually, we got a bit of a break in the group. And then we got we got numbers.”

Feeley was driving the break in his characteristic aerodynamic style, spending periods of time hammering it on the front. However the composition of the group didn’t click, leading to some frustration with that and indeed with the approach of other teams in the race.

“Unfortunately, there were two Skyline riders there, Dillon [Corkery] was in it, and Foran [the team of race leader Dom Jackson – ed.] were in it. They just sat on the back of us, as they should, really, with riders up there on GC.

“But look, it’s a pity because I feel like, apart from the Irish team, and maybe Conn McDunphy’s team, they just handed it to the yellow jersey’s team. Nobody was willing to race.

“It’s disappointing on the Irish side of things. But look, we can’t say we didn’t try.”

Feeley started the final stage 12th overall but level on time with the rider in seventh. Gaining even a second would have moved him up the GC, and Corkery’s storming ride last year would also have been on his mind. Had the elastic snapped and the right group stayed clear, he might even have taken a second Rás title.

“I feel like I’ve given absolutely I everything I could have to win it,” he said. “But just we didn’t get that lucky break in the end, unfortunately.

“We were away for two of the finishing circuits. We just got caught up before we started that final lap. We just got caught up there by Bective Stud. It’s a pity because look, you can tell there were there were friends made, when you look at the composition of the riders who were riding us down.

“They were they didn’t even feature in any of the stage finishes or in the GC. So favours were being repaid, as the man says. But look, sure, we’d all do it if we if we had to do it, you know yourself.”

Feeley would dearly love to repeat his overall victory in the race of two years ago. He was eighth on stage two into Sneem, finishing as part of the big chasing group. He felt then that things were starting to click after what had been a difficult lead in to the race.

“It was far from ideal,” he said of his buildup. “I’d to take as good as ten days off the bike, a week off the bike at the beginning of the month.

“I got a chest infection and it really it really put a spanner in the works when it came to the preparation. And I was kind of unsure as to how I would go.

“But I rode myself into it after the first day. And then day two is feeling good, I was getting over the climbs with the front group. And I was like, ‘yeah, look, we can potentially do this.’ But yeah, look, next year.”

Waiting 12 months for his next opportunity is hard, but there are races other than the Rás to target. He finished second to Ryan Mullen in the 2021 national championships and will aim for that event again.

“We will give nationals a go,” he said. “As you know, it is a bit of a lottery. But look, we’ll just keep on racing, week in week out, because that’s going to stand to us for next year’s Rás.

“We already have our eyes on that target again, so we do.”

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