Cassidy family thanks supporters

“The Cassidy family would like to thank all the bunch for their respect for Mark when he crashed. I just spoke to him in the ambulance and he has a suspected broken elbow, but thank God he will be okay and will live to fight another day! He is in good spirits given the situation.

“That’s what makes the sport of cycling so great as you can never tell what is going to happen next. We are all very proud of him and glad he is okay.”

Day four of the FBD Insurance Ras and the event has a new overall leader in David McCann from Belfast representing Ireland.

Yesterday’s fourth stage from Corofin to Tralee was one of those days when the inevitable happened! On one side you have joy written all over the face of David McCann as he stood on the podium in Tralee taking the plaudits and despair on the face of overnight leader Mark Cassidy (An Post/Sean Kelly Racing Team) who crashed at the ‘Irish Cement Roundabout’ on the Dock Road in Limerick with 50 kilometers of racing negotiated of 156 kilometers who ended up in hospital.

According to an eye witness on the course (Martin Phillips) “there was a group of riders ahead and the bunch was lined out in pursuit of the leaders just 100 meters short of the roundabout (no track lines) with Mark close to the head of affairs. All of a sudden Mark and Ismael Kip a member of the Dutch team hit the deck. Mark remained motionless on the ground for over two minutes and for a time it looked scary,” said Martin.

In typical fashion of a man of the ‘Ras’ once he got his bearings he was back on his bike and in pursuit of the main pack but Ismael a member of the ‘Pursuit Team’ for Beijing was unable to carry on.

When the cyclists ahead, realised that the ‘yellow jersey’ had crashed and was now back on his bike, the speed was reduced to a snails pace to allow the unfortunate Mark make his way back the group. Throughout the earlier part of the stage Mark had been active in attempting to go forward, but to no avail and this was more or less a sporting gesture to give the fallen hero a chance to recover.

He did make the junction to the pack, but unfortunately Mark called it a day between Rathkeale and Newcastlewest at the signpost for Knockaderry.

With the race leader gone of to hospital, normal service was resumed and the race clicked into action again.

In the interim  Abbas Saeidi Tanha (Iran Islamic Azad University) went forward and had been steadily building up a sizeable lead which went up six minutes at one stage. It was unclear if the Iranian had been aware of the truce on the road.

Shortly after Abbeyfeale and approaching the second mountain prime at Glanshearoon the Iranian’s advantage fizzled out.

Still there were counter attacks from the main group before eventually Wojciech Dybel (Poland), Bogdan Stoytchev (Bulgaria Nessebar), Roger Aiken (Ireland)  Kiedt Yannick (Germany Stevens von Hacht) went clear.

No sooner had this group established themselves at the head of the race when they were joined by S. Mostafa Razaei Khormizi ( Islamic Azad University), Simon Richardson ( Plowman Craven), Stephen Gallagher ( An Post/Sean Kelly) and Kit Gilham (Britain Kinesis),  Chris Newton (Stena Line Rapha Conor, David McCann (Ireland) plus Levi Heimans (Netherlands) and Dean Downing ( Stena Line Rapha Conor who  were the last pair to get across, making it twelve at the head of the race.

After the prime at Glanshearon Wojciech Dybel and S. Mostafa Razaei Khormizi pushed ahead in search of a stage victory. Their advantage on the chasers  hovered on the 30 second marker with the bunch a minute in arrears. On the wide open roads the duo realised that they were going nowhere fast and decided it was foolhardy making a stab at victory from a long way out.
With 10kms to go and a fast descent into Tralee it was all to play for the break who were applying the pressure to stay ahead of chasing pack.

Inside the last 3kms of the stage another twist unfolded which may have repercussions for Chris Newton overall winner in 2003 and 2005. He punctured and his chance of taking the yellow jersey as race leader went up in smoke, but his misfortune was to the the benefit of David McCann who went on to win the stage and take  the yellow jersey.

“It was a bad time to puncture but at least with the rules, a crash or a puncture you are given the same time as per the rules of the Union Cycliste Internationale which is the  group you were with. But, fortunately for me, Den Downing my team mate realised that David had a gap and chased him down, but the line came too soon. Anyhow what’s a second between friends,” said Chris.

The race is scheduled to finish in Skibbereen today at 2.30 after a 141km stage from Tralee.


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