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Irish Racing Last Updated: 2 Apr 2018 - 8:45:17 PM

By Shane Stokes
31 Jul 2010,

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Martyn Irvine unleashed a strong finishing sprint to grab victory on day one of the Suir Valley 3 Day today. The Planet X rider beat Conor Murphy (Eurocycles Eurobaby), Andy Roche (Isle of Man), Mark Cassidy (An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Sean Kelly) and Thomas Martin (Eurocycles Eurobaby) to the line in Clonmel. This, plus his wins in the two intermediate sprints, saw him end the day ten seconds ahead of Murphy in the general classification.

Each of these riders were part of an eleven man break which went clear inside the first 50 kilometres of the stage, and who opened a decisive lead on a peloton depleted by two early crashes. The next chasers ultimately finished 36 seconds back, with all the riders from 18th place back finishing at least four minutes down.

“It was a bit of a tactical race – we had a very small team with just two of us in the race, so we had to play our cards close to our chest and bounce off the other teams. It worked out well, it was good,” Irvine told after the presentation.

“It is all a bit of a blur, to be honest. It kind of steadied off [in the break], people lost interest, then Mark Cassidy attacked. That fired things up again, and I knew that if we didn’t go with him, we would be caught chasing. That is the last thing that I wanted to do, I don’t have that kind of strength to chase. So I just followed certain team members. It worked out well as half of the bunch lost interest and we just milled it then.”

Irvine said that he lost contact on the final climb, but managed to rejoin. “I knew that if I got down the hill it would be grand,” he explained. “Then a block headwind to the finish suited me as I wasn’t really strong to chase stuff…the headwind suited me down to the ground.”

“I knew if it left it as late as possible, I could sneak past in the headwind. For once I had confidence in my sprint. I am not really a sprinter, but I am learning it, learning.”

Cassidy was highly motivated during today’s first stage and attacked several times in search of victory. He was unable to shake off the other riders, however, and came in towards the finish with four other riders for company. A problem at the end cost him his chance, and his frustration was easily seen when he hurled a water bottle to the ground.

Early on, though, he was happy with how things had gone. “It was good, the team was riding strongly. It was fast at the start, faster than I expected to be, due to the tailwind,” he said. “I knew the roads quite well and there are decent little climbs in there. On the first climb, about ten of us got away and were riding quite well. When we hit the other KOH’s, I attacked a few times to try to get rid of Martyn as I knew he had hot spot sprints and I knew he might be hit and miss on the climbs. We didn’t get rid of him anyway, but there was a block headwind into the finish. I tried to get away a few times coming in the road, but it was far too windy.

“Then in the sprint, I just had a bit of a problem with my chainring…I think it was damaged when flying over here. You can see it is bent and I am sure that is what it was. But Martyn was really strong today as well…maybe a win was possible, but it could have been second as well. It wasn’t a guaranteed win…”

Murphy and Roche were also frustrated, going close to the victory but being beaten by Irvine’s speed. They will do their utmost to scoop a win in the remaining three stages.

How it happened:

Shortly after the 1pm start in Clonmel, two riders clipped away but were then caught. The pace remained high, with the riders being pushed along by a strong tailwind, and soaked by very heavy rain. The conditions were treacherous for a while and two big crashes plus the rapid pace ensured that the bunch was split into several seconds.

Martyn Irvine (Planet X) took the hot spot sprint in Carrick on Suir, edging out Stephen Gallagher (Sigma Sport) and Mark Cassidy (An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Sean Kelly) 17.7 kilometres after the start. They pushed on and were joined by Sean Lacey (The Edge) and Cassidy’s team-mates Mark McNally and Connor McConvey, and these riders tackled the category two Church Hill together. They built a decent lead but after 25 kilometres of racing, the peloton had reeled them in.

Cassidy, Gallagher, Lacey, Conor Murphy (Eurocycles Eurobaby), Andy Roche (Isle of Man), Ryan Sherlock ( and Stephen Barrett (Planet X) then got clear in a group, but were joined by several others. A new 11 man break then formed, with Adam Armstrong, Thomas Martin and Murphy (all Eurocycles Eurobaby), Lacey, Sherlock, Cassidy, McConvey, Gallagher, Irvine, Roche and Barrett all present.

The group was over a minute clear 52 kilometres after the start, and that gave McConvey a comfortable buffer when he suffered a front wheel puncture. He powered back on, looking impressively strong, and quite soon afterwards clipped away on the second category Templeorm climb with Cassidy for company. They were joined by Roche and Gallagher, with the latter dropping back before the summit.

Murphy was particularly active in the chase behind and before the prime line, that second group merged with the first. Cassidy and McConvey led over the summit, with Murphy then jumping clear and opening up a decent solo advantage.

Cassidy recognised the danger and went after him, being joined by Roche and Gallagher before the junction was made. Thomas Martin also clipped across, but this five man group became four when Gallagher cracked and went back. Cassidy led them across the top of the third category Kilmaganny ascent.

The group of chasers behind grew to a dozen when others bridged, but it was going to be very difficult to get the leaders back. With 20 kilometres remaining they were one minute 30 seconds back, and this gap remained the same ten kilometres later. It was clear then that one of the five would win the stage. The question was, which one?

Cassidy was one of the most active riders during the stage and he was determined to take the victory for the An Post team. However a strong headwind prevented any attacks from sticking and Irvine played things just right to grab a good sprint win. Cassidy finished back in fourth and said after the stage that he had gear issues, showing his frustration when he hurled his bottle to the ground.

However he had the consolation of taking the mountains jersey, while Irvine assumed the overall lead plus the lead in the hot spot and points competitions. Murphy and Roche finished second and third on the stage and ended the day ten and twelve seconds back respectively, being Irvine’s closest challengers going into tomorrow’s second stage.


Suir Valley 3 day, stage 1 (Clonmel – Clonmel):

1, Martin Irvine (Planet X) 113.4 kilometres in 2 hours 40 mins 25 secs
2, Conor Murphy (Eurocycles Eurobaby)
3, Andy Roche (Team Isle of Man) both same time
4, Mark Cassidy (An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Sean Kelly) at 3 secs
5, Thomas Martin (Eurocycles Eurobaby) at 4 secs
6, Joe Kelly (Isle of Man) at 36 secs
7, Adam Armstrong (Eurocycles Eurobaby)
8, Graeme Hatcher (Isle of Man)
9, Connor McConvey (An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Sean Kelly)
10, Stephen Gallagher (SigmaSport) all same time

Overall standings:

1, Martin Irvine (Planet X) 2 hours 40 mins 9 secs
2, Conor Murphy (Eurocycles Eurobaby) at 10 secs
3, Andy Roche (Team Isle of Man) at 12 secs
4, Mark Cassidy (An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Sean Kelly) at 18 secs
5, Thomas Martin (Eurocycles Eurobaby) at 20 secs
6, Stephen Gallagher (SigmaSport) at 49 secs
7, Stephen Barrett (Planet X) at 50 secs
8, Joe Kelly (Isle of Man) at 52 secs
9, Adam Armstrong (Eurocycles Eurobaby)
10, Graeme Hatcher (Isle of Man) both same time


1, Mark Cassidy (An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Sean Kelly) 25
2, Andrew Roche (Team Isle of Man) 16
3, Conor McConvey (An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Sean Kelly) 12
4, Mark Cassidy Sean Kelly An Post) 8

Hot Spots:

1, Martin Irvine (Planet X)
2, Stephen Gallagher (Sigma Sport)
3, Stephen Barrett( Planet X)
4, Mark Cassidy (An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Sean Kelly)


1, Martin Irvine (Planet X) 15
2, Conor Murphy (Eurocycles Eurobaby) 14
3, Andrew Roche (Team Isle of Man) 13
4, Mark Cassidy (An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Sean Kelly) 12
5, Thomas Martin (Eurocycles Eurobaby) 11

Senior 2:

1, Joe Kelly (Isle of Man) 2 hours 41 mins 1 sec
2, Graeme Hatcher (Isle of Man) same time
3, Brendan McLoughlin (Blarney CC) at 3 mins 38 secs

Senior 3:

1, John Murphy (Fermoy) 2 hours 44 mins 39 secs
2, Denis Keane (Earl of Desmond)
3, Art McManus (unattached) both same time


1, Eurocycle Eurobaby, 8 hours 1 min 55 secs
2, An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Sean Kelly, at 35 secs
3, Isle of Man, at 4 mins 10 secs

The riders faced very tough weather conditions at some points during the stage.

The An Post team was always prominent.

Martyn Irvine said after the stage that he suffered on some of the hills, but he shows little sign of it here.

Connor McConvey punctured but then rejoined powerfully.

McConvey rides under changeable skies.

Mark Cassidy was aggressive...

...but Irvine would go on to win and take yellow.

Ryan Sherlock chases.

The bunch comes in to finish.

Former FBD Ras winner Andy Roche

Mark Cassidy took the King of the Mountains jersey.

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