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Time stop 15 from Cobh, Co. Cork to Carrick on Suir, Co. Tipperary.
Rounding the south end of the island of Ireland, we received the news that some of our crew had half expected to hear: Fabio Biasiolo had retired from the race. We have our guesses as to why he didn't finish. The explanation I like best is that Fabio knew he wasn't going to shake Joe, and rather than take a black mark against his title, he opted to drop out rather than be beaten by an Irishman fresh out of retirement who came out of nowhere to give him a thrashing he wouldn't soon forget. I am, however, biased.
We entered Cork city in the wee hours of Saturday morning and cheered Joe up infamous St. Patrick's Hill, which, however steep and short, is quite a challenge if you've been on your bike for days. His broken foot and his fatigue forced us to stop atop the hill and wait while he slept. We sat beside the road and watched people stagger home from their Friday night out.
It was after this point that we discovered we couldn't play the game the same way. Joe was exhausted and nervous that he would now be overtaken by the second place holder who remained two stages behind us. The team was fragmented, half the crew having gone on to Carrick on Suir in the sleeper caravan and the road crew having been on duty for too long a stretch. We were losing our reason.
We decided to all converge in Youghal, Co. Cork, where we would regroup and figure a new strategy to get Joe over the finish line in the lead. We could no longer take the route in long stages with alternating crews. We all had to take what rest we could in short hops, and get the man all the way to the end by hook or by crook...
more to come...