World Masters Cycling St Johann Austria 2015
The World Masters Cycling championships for road racing and time trials returned to the town of Sankt Johann in Tyrol , Austria from the 22nd to the 29th August. Six IVCA members made the trip this year and raced in both World Cup, World Championships and Timetrial.
Noel Thompson, Mick Scully and John Brady were contesting the 50-55 yrs, with Donagh Mc Ardle in the 45-49, Eddie Scully 70-75 and Kevin Simms 80+ category.
All of these riders had competed in 2014 along with Phil Ormrod who contested the TT.
Phil did not travel this year leaving Kevin Simms as the only competing time trialist.
The circuit for the road race is the same for both World Cup and World championship and covers a 45k loop of rolling roads. The first climb ( Huberhoe Pass ) comes after just 3k and is a 3.5k long ramp at 6 to 9 percent gradient. The second climb is through the village of Schwendt at 10 percent and then there is a switchback on the furthest end of the circuit with the finish line on the outskirts of St Johann.
The World Cup races are raced over the first weekend in the same age categories as the world championships so it’s always a good way to see how your form is and how the climbs will be raced. The weather for the first couple of days was quite mixed with a mixture of blistering sunshine and cold mornings with heavy cloud over the mountains. After getting the bikes put together on Thursday the two Scullys along with Mc Ardle and Simms rode a lap. Half way around the sky’s opened and a hours downpour left the lads looking for shelter.
On race morning the sun came out and Eddie Scully was first man racing. Eddie rode well and crested the first climb just off the back of the peloton. On the descent Eddie teamed up with four others and worked hard to regain contact. With Eddies race covering one lap of the circuit, it was a difficult ask and despite his best efforts was just outside the placings.
Donagh McArdle was up next in the 45-49 race. About 70 riders signed on for this one with the majority being Italian, Spanish and German riders. The lone Irishman got off to a good start and was glad that nobody attacked the first climb. The race did split on the next climb into the village of Schwendt and McArdle missed the break when three Italian riders attacked. The race was split to pieces by now and after getting into a chasing group of twelve , the time gaps continued to go out over the three lap affair. At the finish twelve had become six and at the line McArdle finished six minutes down and in about 35th position. Mick Scully was at this stage on the road and going well in the bunch. The temperatures were now hitting 32/33 degrees and the going was tough.
On the second time around , half way up the first climb the Italians and Spaniards injected the pace and suddenly they were lined out on the mountain. Mick buried himself to stay in touch but the strength and pace of the front runners was phenomenal. Micks race was a two lap affair and at the finish , Scully jnr crossed the line a few minutes down exhausted from his efforts.
Kevin Simms rode the 80+ race the next morning and rode very well over the one lap affair.
Finishing just outside the top 20, Kevin left everything on the road and stayed with the bunch until near the end. Despite being outside the top 20 the 83 year old rider from Kilcock was happy with his performance and rode well. Kevin’s focus was now turning to the 20k Timetrial on Thursday which is ran on part of the race circuit on a 10k out and back run.
Again Kevin rode well but with TT specialists traveling to compete from all over the world it was a big ask. Never one to disappoint, the great Simms finished 16th and with the top 20 receiving trophys , Simms was bringing home the first of the silverware. Congratulations Kevin !!
Noel Thompson and John Brady arrived on Thursday morning and were joined by Joe Christian from Gorey who is an A2 Ras rider and has just turned forty this year. Joe has won many races at A3 and A2 and fancied his chances in Austria. Although not an IVCA member, Joe will be hoping to join in the coming year. Thompson and Brady who have shown great form this year both in the IVCA races and in A2 races around the country were also keen to get stuck in. Brady, Thompson, Scully jnr and Mc Ardle teamed up with the National Polish team over the next two days to train on the circuit and get a feel of how the races would be raced at the weekend.
The temperature continued to rise on a daily basis and by Friday it had hit 35 degrees. This was causing serious concern for the Irish contingent , with the forecast being that it would continue to rise. Jim Ludden had made the journey over to support the Irish lads and was really helpful .
Jim repeatedly told us to hydrate, keep out of the sun and conserve our energy.
Going over the top of the climb, Thompson, Brady and Scully were all in the bunch with a steady 26kmph being ridden. In the blistering heat , the three Irish lads were doing great in a field of top riders from around the globe. Former national road race champions were commonplace and current veteran champions were involved in all races. By the first climb on the second lap the race was blown to pieces. There were riders all over the mountain with cries for bottles on every corner. Brady crested first with Thompson and Scully a minute further back. All riders were suffering badly in the heat and were starting to run on empty. They continued on bravely to the finish where all three came in exhausted and completely spent.
For McArdle, Simms and Scully on the Saturday, where it was now 36 degrees a similar fate was to be in store. Again Jim Ludden was telling us to get the water in and keep out of the sun.
Cresting the first climb Mc Ardle was in a group 15 seconds down and despite gathering five others in a chasing group the time gaps continued to open. The air was thin on the mountain and no training or racing at home could have prepared any of the six riders for these conditions.
At the finish McArdle crossed the line with five others nine minutes down and again totally exhausted. Good news filtered through shortly after as Joe Christian took sixth in the 40-44 years race . A great achievement for Joe and now surely to be a regular visitor to St Johann in the future. Joe hopes to join the IVCA in 2016 and contest the road races in the scratch group.
Congratulations to Joe on his sixth place and the second trophy for Ireland.
Eddie Scully raced well and in his customery style jumped past five other riders in a sprint for minor placings. Eddie left the five in his wake as he turned on the afterburners with 150m to go.
Afterwards Eddie was approached by an Englishman who congratulated him on his efforts with the conversation going like this….”Well done to you sir, I didn’t even realise you were still there”.
To which Eddies response was ” Thank you, You are not the first one to say that over the years”.
Classic Eddie Scully !!!!
On a final note I personally would like to say that everyone who competed gave 110% over the week. We were disappointed that we did not perform as well as hoped but as I said earlier, our biggest obstacle was the heat and there was no way to prepare for that. Kevin and Joe did great and it was fantastic to see the lads collecting their trophys. A special thanks to Jim Ludden for his help and advice and to the other family members who travelled and made the week so enjoyable. For those who have not travelled to the Worlds, it is something that should be considered and I’m sure our top riders can compete with the best of them. Lastly a thank you to the IVCA executive for their support to all riders involved. ..Roll on 2016
Donagh Mc Ardle
IVCA # 1390