Second a missed opportunity – winning is all that matters, insists McConvey
Having finished on the same time as winner Marcin Bialablocki in last year's An Post Ras, Belfast man Connor McConvey has had plenty of time since then to ponder how he might have stolen the final yellow jersey from the lanky Pole.
"It came down to daily stage placings in the end and on the first stage, I led out my team-mate in the finishing sprint and because of that I lost about 40 places on the stage. If I hadn't led him out I would have won the Ras," he says.
McConvey also knows that he might have gained the vital second that would have seen him win the race outright on Stage 5 into Mitchelstown. Having gone clear with Dane Rasmus Guldhammer and Belgian Moreno de Pauw in the final kilometres, McConvey rode hard to gain time on his rivals in the peloton but hadn't the strength left to hold onto eventual stage winner De Pauw when he kicked clear on the final corner to finish a single second ahead of the duo.
"If I had ridden less in the break, taken it easier, maybe I'd have got that second and won the Ras. But that's all right in hindsight. If I was in the same position in the race again I'd probably do the same thing as it's the right thing to do at the time. There's nothing more I could have done," he says.
McConvey was keeping a watchful eye yesterday as this year's Ras route was unveiled at the GPO.
Beginning in Dunboyne on Sunday, May 18, the eight-day odyssey winds its way around the country to stage finishes in Roscommon, Lisdoonvarna, Charleville, Cahirciveen, Clonakilty, Carrick-on-Suir and Baltinglass before finishing in Skerries on May 25.
With some flatter stages in the 1,260km of racing, the route has a bit of everything, including tough climbing days down south. Stage 4 has 10 mountains to be traversed on the 183km route from Charleville to Cahirciveen, while Stage 6 finishes at the summit of Sean Kelly's old stomping ground, Seskin Hill, in Carrick-On-Suir.
"There are a few key stages, around Kerry and the one up Seskin, but it could be won on the flat, it could be won in Skerries on the last day," says McConvey.
"Unless you're a pure climber or a pure sprinter, anyone in between can always do something in the Ras. The Ras will always suit me. It's an aggressive type of race and I can get over pretty much any terrain.
"I've been seventh, fourth and second in my three times riding it but the only thing that matters is winning, so second overall, while it's something I can be proud of, is very much a missed opportunity.
"I've had a good schooling on how to ride the race from Kurt Bogaerts on the Sean Kelly team at the start, and now I have two-time winner David McCann in the car at Baku Synergy. If you listen to them and you have the legs you'll be there in May."