Ryan was again part of the Irish Development Team this bank holiday weekend where he took part in the prestigious and gruelling Tour of Ulster. The race was made up of 4 stages - 3 road stages and one 2 mile TT.
This was perhaps the hardest stage with riders having to travel 90 undulating miles across Ulster and with the Node 4 Giordana boys in action it was never going to be easy for anyone. Ryan got himself in to the race's breakaway about 25 miles in after a few digs were put in up one of the King of the Mountain primes by several of the big hitters.
There was a lull in the bunch and the break quickly established a lead of around 40 seconds, another 10 man group came across about 10 minutes later, bring the numbers up to around the 25 mark. A lot of riders were sitting on and the break was beginning to become negative - a few attacks from Matt Higgins and Adam Armstrong put an end to that and the break split, leaving 13 riders including Ryan to battle it out over the remaining 50 miles.
The break worked well and established a good lead of around 10 minutes on the bunch come the final 10km. Ryan, doing a lot of work to ensure the break stayed away started feeling the pressure up the final KOM prime and lost contact after severe cramp took over.
Ryan was left chasing for the last 10k on his own and lost around 1 minute 30 to the stage winner (Armstrong) and his breakaway companion James Moss. This result left Ryan 13th overall on GC and in the lead of the U23 classification by some 2 and a half minutes.
Relentless pace and superb team riding by the Eurocycles team saw this 66 mile undulating stage covered in 2 hours and 20 minutes. Any attack that went was brought back in a matter of minutes, which meant it looked likely the stage would come down to a sprint and no change in the GC placings.
Up until 15k to go, the bunch was intact until a break of about 10 riders slipped clear of the tiring Eurocycles team. The slowing pace of the bunch and the unwillingness of everyone to help the Eurocycles team saw the break gather a lead of 1 minute come the finish. Ryan was 3rd in the uphill bunch sprint behind Ricco Rogers and Stephen Clancy.
A two mile TT made up the 3rd stage. With such a short distance it was very unlikely that the GC places would alter too much. Originally, the TT was meant to be a hill climb - meaning Ryan was told not to bring his Exocet 2 TT bike. A change last minute saw the course get altered to a relatively undulating 2 mile sprint.
The opening mile was on flat dual carriage way but the returning leg was much hillier. Very kindly, Padraig Marrey of Western Lakes CC lent Ryan his TT bike which oddly enough also turned out to be a Planet X Exocet!
However, the bike was a tad too small for Ryan which meant he wasn't quite able to get all his power through or get in his right position. In the end, Ryan came 4th in the TT, 5 seconds behind stage winner Matt Higgins. If Ryan was on his own bike, then perhaps the results may have been different.
Rain, wind and more rain saw multiple riders pull out of this stage, even before the race began! With temperatures down to around 5 degrees and the rain lashing no one was enjoying themselves.
A few early digs from riders including Ryan pretty much formed the race. Ryan was in a break away of about 20 riders again after 20 miles or so. Again, negative riding saw the break away deteriorate after attacks from some of the elites. Adam Armstrong managed to get away again with the overall leader Matt Higgins and brought a few more riders with them as the remainder of the break thinned away to only a few riders.
Ryan attacked the shrinking group in fear of being caught by the bunch which was only 40 seconds behind. He managed to get away with another rider who worker extremely hard for 50 miles to increase their lead over the 60 rider strong bunch. Ryan rolled over the line about 5 minutes behind the winner, Ryan Sherlock and in doing so climbed up the GC to 7th overall.
In the end Ryan defended his jersey and won the U23 classification (as a junior) by 7 and a half minutes and a top 10 overall with some of the best UK and Irish riders round, all whilst aboard his new Planet X N2A.
Final Standings at the 2012 Tour of Ulster
10 May 2012