The Mythical Legend That Is The Rás By Tommy Evans
May 21, 2020, 10:10
Rás Winner 1996
The Rás has a deep ingrained history within Irish Cycling, form growing up as an underage rider I loved to hear the stories of the Rás, the great men that race had some amazing stories to tell, I didn’t care if they where true or false I knew I had to conquer it.
|Tommy In Yellow on Stage 7 to Westport 2006|
As a 14 year old I knew from then that I loved stage racing everyday gave you an opportunity to win, rectify your mistake from the day before, out do an opponent more miles on the clock.
Roll onto 1992 my first taste of the Rás as a 19year old full of confidence and no fear, taking on a 9-day stage race, the longest race I’d ever ridden!!
We had the Italians who just looked the business, they had amazing kit, fantastic bikes, they even smelt nice!!!
While hereI was amongst all the other county teams fighting to survive, a few occasions seen me over zealous on some of the descents ending up in the ditch on more than one occasion!!!
I always remember being in a crash with Tosh Lavery who was well bashed up but being harder than nails he just got stitched up and rode on!! At 19 you look at this and realise no-one likes to quit this race no matter what.
I finished the race in the top 30 overall and 2nd in the 2nd cat classification.
From this first year, I then knew why the race was special … a unique group of volunteers that made the wheel’s roll, from Dermott and the family, to TC, Frank, Alice, Mick, Gerry, Gabo, Eddie, all the motor bike marshals, I’m sure there are loads I’ve missed but all I can say is that everyone of these volunteers cheered me on throughout my Ras adventures.
I’m one of the lucky guys that can say I am part of the history of the Ras, I was on 5 Rás winners team (including my own) won 4 stages, and had the honour to wear the jersey on 4 different years.
|Tommy Evans Usher I.R,C. Is Pipped By Chris Newton ReCycling To Take Stage One Into Enniscorthy 2006|
I was also very lucky to have some great people around me and influence me, Gerry, Frank, Stevie, Cheeky, Casso, DMC, to name a few.
I personally think the key to the race was just to race hard all day every day, this was the bit that cracked the big international teams, they were more adopt to letting a small break go and control things when the wanted, in Ireland this was much more difficult as the attacking went from the gun and none stop until somone finally cracked could take an eternity.
This for sure was the piece that took the legs of these international guys they just could'nt handle all this attacking, something that I was good at doing.
My last 2 years racing where some of my most memorable, no pressure to race on the national team I rode in 2004 with the Trinity Capital Team, Yorkshire with the guys that no doubt in their day where the strongest most aggressive riders in the Uk. And that’s why these guys always done well in the Rás.
Malcom Elliott, John Tanner, Mark Lovat, Kevin Dawson and myself managed by Frank Campbell…
This was one of the most enjoyable Rás’s I had in a long time as not alone did these guys race hard but they liked to have a few beers and enjoy the atmosphere!
Malcom was sprinting like a he was 20 years before winning the points and stages along the way while the rest of us just attacked the shit out the race for fun.
I came close twice being in breakaways and getting caught in the last km on 2 occasions, one of these myself and Mark Lovatt had been in the break all day it was a rotten wet miserable day from the start and as had been the routine we had a few pints of Guinness the night before (aprox6) so the rain didn’t seem to bother us. We both immediately got into the break which was filled with drama several crashes that included Duncan Urquhart, who went through the hedge and came out with a big branch coming out of his helmet bizarrely he was a tank commander from Scotland.
Anyway, myself and Mark who had never won a stage took off and had a decent gap with 15k to go buy we were both fading… at 1k to go I gave him my last 15 scs turn as I was empty only for him to be caught just before the line, lucky Malcom won the stage.
Later at the team meeting, Mark calmly said to Frank that the issue was merely a fuelling one, we ran out of Guinness!
2005 was my final swan song, fatherhood was on the way, so my priorities would have to change id no longer have the time so wanted to go out with a bang.
|Tommy with ! of the many County rider awards he won|
We had read the Rules regarding the team tt which the winning county team would be granted the same time as the winning international team. Something the Chief com hadn’t read very well.
I was on the Usher insulation team from Dublin, along with Gary, Greg, Matt, and Eoin, supported By Tommy, Delores, Jenny, and Ritchie.
Stage one started mad as usual I hadn’t great legs so was surprised with 10 k to go I ended up in the break, there I was leading up the climb to the finish and with 10mtrs to go I raised one had only to get pipped my world and Olympic medallist Chris Newton.
The actual photo finish there was only mm in it!!
Feeling sorry for myself I had a few glasses of wine to ease the pain of the embarrassment getting caught “with my pants down!) what started as a few ended up me getting pushed into the B&B through the bedroom window as we were locked out unable to find my bed I slept on the wooden floor..
The team at the Rás never missed an opportunity for some cryptic messages on the blackboard, this time I was the brunt of their joke as the rumour spread that I had been promised a 1k bonus from winning the stage…so they calculated that I Lost 1k in prize money and 1k in bonus so the headline was Newton two grand for Evans..
Several more latish evenings enjoy the whole “Night Stage of the Ras” which appeared to be more hotly contested that the real race… This was the ideal place to hear tactics, course profiles, niggles that other guys had from all the support guys from the race.
The Team Time Trial was approaching and it looked like I had the opportunity to take the jersey , we had a good team and I was confident we could smash it, one of the guys told me he was confident he could deliver a big performance and he was my main man, having experience in this event unfortunately I was taking no chances so set of full gas and we lost him at 3 mile …we did go onto win the county stage so were give 0 time deduction, much to the fury of the Chief com who had taken a dislike to me anyway fineing me for apparently early feeding during one of the stage while I just handed a Gillet to the team car, during one of the night stages I did challenge him on this which didn’t go down too well .
We had the jersey for the afternoon stage a horrible short windy one, for a change I was in the right position and the whole thing split to pieces I was at the front, a broken front wheel would use up some valuable watts, there was no option to change when doing 35mph in the cross-wind id lose mins.
Some re grouping and Chris Newton and his team took turns to attack me I could only follow so many so eventually cracked loose some 35scs and the jersey.
For the remainder of the race I decided to enjoy racing attacking at every opportunity just to make sure that the winner had the hardest possible time to win, I remember one line out where I continually kept upsetting Chris newton and his team just for the pure hell of it lol.
I broke poor Ritchie the mechanics heart I was wrecking wheels, frames he had parts driven down from Dublin to keep me on the road, similarly I broke Tommy Bakers heart on one occasion pretending to be intoxicated and falling in the lobby,
It was a fantastic year and I got to enjoy the Rás at both levels
While I can recommend the RAS as an exception and fantastic race I can’t recommend the night stages leave that to the real RAS PROS
|International Team Frankie Campbell (Manager) John Tanner, Mark Lovatt, Malcom Elliott, Kevin Dawson, Tommy Evans |
|Dublin Usher IRC Winners Of The County Team Time Trial In An Cheathrú Rua Co. Galway 2005|