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Ireland’08: Looking Back!
Fairy tales? They do come true if you're the Columbia team manager - four stage wins out of five, plus the GC. But not for our boy Dan Fleeman - or Russel Downing. We talked with Dan about the final two stages on the Emerald Isle.

PEZ: Tell us about it, Dan.
Dan: It wasn't too bad a day for me, I moved up to 13th, I felt good and was on the attack a lot. The finish circuit was really tough, as well as Saint Patrick's Hill there were another three hard climbs on the circuit; so in the finalй there were 16 climbs!I made the crucial split, and I saw Pinotti (overall winner Marco of Italy & Columbia) go - I saw him talking to his team mate, Michael Barry and I knew one of them would go - but I hesitated for a second or two and he was away.

Pinotti "went like a rocket ship."

He went like a rocket ship, there was just no way I could get to him. It's conjecture, but I think I could have gone with him, but for hesitating. He was really motoring, Russ Downing in the yellow jersey had no team mates left once it hit the circuit, but he matched every move - except that one.

I lost a little time on the run in, there was a crash on one of the fast descents and I hopped the kerb to miss it, I lost a couple of seconds and just couldn't get it back.

Columbia played it perfectly, they had Frantisek Rabon up the road, so they didn't have to work - he held on to win the stage, then Pinotti jumped to take the GC.

Frantisek Rabon made it four wins in five stages for Columbia.

PEZ: So you had good legs today?
Dan: Yeah, after yesterday when I felt terrible. I attacked on the Connor Pass, but it wasn't really long or tough enough to get the gap, plus, it was a block headwind. The team had been riding for me though, so I felt obliged to do something.

Today was different, I felt good and it was my attacking which forced a couple of the splits.

PEZ: What was the Saint Patrick's climb like?
Dan: The crowds were massive, my wife, Dan's wife and my sister were all there. Our sponsor, An Post were sponsoring the sprints and had been dishing out t-shirts plus the Sean Kelly name is really well known, so it was a great atmosphere.

PEZ: How did your Irish guys do?
Dan: Unfortunately, Stevie Gallagher was sick and didn't finish; Mark Cassidy made the split yesterday but was dropped later.

PEZ: Who impressed you?
Dan: Columbia, they played it perfectly today; Russell Downing, he was very strong; Matt Wilson (Team Type 1) the ex-Aussie champion and Julian Dean (Garmin), for a big guy, he can get up the hills.

PEZ: Russ Downing must be disappointed?
Dan: I don't know, if you'd told him before the race that he'd be second on GC and win a stage, he'd have settled for that, I think. Remember it's Columbia versus Pinarello RT, it's not really a contest, is it? His team rode well enough at the start today, but once it hit the circuit, he was on his own. He had to keep reacting and when Pinotti went, it was just too much. He asked me for help, I gave him one spell, but then I heard that Dan Lloyd was coming back up, so I couldn't spell any more.

PEZ: Were stages 4 & 5 a bit safer.
Dan: Yeah, the roads on the last two days were good, a lot safer; there were a lot of punctures on the first three days. The TV coverage was good and so were the crowds.

PEZ: Sponsor's dinner tonight, are you allowed a beer?
Dan: Yeah, about 70 folks - I think they've been shooting video footage of us in the race and it'll played tonight. As for the beer, I'll be having one or two - whether I'm allowed or not!

PEZ: Next race?
Dan: The Tour of Britain, next weekend.

PEZ: What's the programme between now and then?
Dan: We fly home at 1.00 pm, so I'll try and do a 'recovery' ride of around an hour-and-a-half; I usually pedal over to Adrian Timmis's house for a massage, then pedal home. Tuesday I'll probably have off the bike; Wednesday will be amother recovery ride; Thursday will be motor pacing then Friday and Saturday easy. I've got form, I just want to carry it over until the Tour of Britain starts.

With thanks to Dan for his time and commiserations to that man Downing.


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