The Tipperary Wheelers Club League was first run in 2010, in the first year of the clubs re-emergence having been reformed in January of the same year. The 2010 league title was competed for over six weeks between its own members, with a small number of local riders from other clubs also participating. On that occasion it was Dermot Radford who emerged on top of the league, a slender few points ahead of Ruaidhri Devitt.
In 2011 the mission of the Tipperary Wheelers’ league was to formulate a race and time trial series that promoted equality amongst all participants whereby anybody was capable of winning the league by competing against people of similar abilities, yet also competing between the different categories for the overall title. The emphasis of the league was on enjoyment, giving those who have never raced or time trialled a chance to get a taste for the captivating thrill of competition while also increasing their enthusiasm for the sport. Experienced riders would also benefit by intense competition amongst themselves, torn between the need to stay together to ride down the categories in front and the necessity to outmanoeuvre their opponents.
The league has consisted four time trials and four (one remaining) road races on alternating weeks, with time trials used to establish handicaps for the road races. After seven weeks of competition, the last road race stage will be the decider and the overall winner of the 2011 league will have to battle it out on the road to Galbally, up the hill in Lisvernane, and cumulating on the slopes of the Christ the King climb to the hill top finish. The points race is very close at the top of the table, so who are the people who will be battling it out?
The current leader and last year’s winner, Dermot Radford, will not have the luxury this year of sitting on his closest rival on the climb to the finish line and relying on a final attack, he will first have to ride down the handicaps if he wants to claim the title, or will he decide to gamble on conserving energy and hoping to outsprint the other Cat 1’s to take 10 points and hope that will be enough? His current lowest race points score is 9 so if he rides to these tactics his maximum points gain to his overall tally will be only 1 point, which might not be enough unless he can claim so Stage top-three points also.
Tagdh Murphy has put in a late surge to take him up to second place in the league with exceptionally strong performances in consecutive time trials, claiming maximum points in Stage 5 and again on Stage 7. Tagdh is only 4 points off the lead but has a potential points gain of 8 should he cross the line in first position to gain the critical extra 3 points for the stage win. Even without the additional 3 points he still stands to gain 5 points if he can be the first Cat 3 to the top of the climb.
Is the early leader of the league, Mick Kelly of Worldwide Cycles, out of contention? He has an 8 point deficit with a potential gain of 6 if he crosses the line in first position on Thursday evening, this will not be enough to win but could be enough for second. He has been swapping the table-topping position with Dermot throughout the league but the difficulty in claiming time trial points has finally ousted Mick from the top.
Richard Bresnan has shown impressive form. Richard is new to competition but has shown a tactically astute approach and improving fitness each week to pull himself level with Mick in third position. Richard’s lowest race points tally is 7, perhaps that puts him out of contention for the overall title but he is certainly in for a mighty battle with those around him for a top three finish.
How about Martin Breen? Martin has been going somewhat unnoticed in amassing a fine points tally that puts him in a very strong position in claiming the title. Martin has only done two races to date, therefore his full points total for the final Stage will be added to his current 47 points total and is therefore well within reach of a table topping finish. He needs to climb well though, and with Richard, Mick and Tagdh all needing those points it will prove to be an epic battle on the climb.
Martina Byrnes has led the ladies throughout and proved more than capable of holding her own with the men and with some superb performances. Martina would be a worthy top-three finisher.
David Connor of Worldwide Cycles has put in consistent performances throughout to ensure he is also up there in the mix while Dave Stokes and Dinny Lynch are also in with a chance of a top three finish.
Predefined prizes have been decided for the time trials, however the predefined prizes for the road races are still up for grabs. These prizes will not be announced prior to the last stage but every single position gained on the last road race counts!
The Tipperary Wheelers Club League 2011 will be decided on the slopes of the Christ the King climb. Even if you are not competing, get out there and show your support for those that have battled it out over the previous seven weeks!