History was made in Clare yesterday when, for the first time in the 38-year history of the Junior Tour, a rider successfully retained the title.
Ireland’s Eddie Dunbar has been in fantastic form all year and defended his crown in superb fashion.
The final stage was based in the suburbs of Ennis with an 80km circuit race. It was on lap two when five riders broke clear, including Dunbar, Michael O’Loughlin, Matthew Teggart, Jack Maddux and Dylan O’Brien.
The group worked well together and as the race was constantly changing behind, the breakaway were never to be seen again. On the long straight run into the finish it was O’Brien, for the Munster Sensa team, who sprinted to victory from Maddux and O’Loughin, while Dunbar cruised in a short time later with arms aloft.
The classifications stayed the same as much of the week, with O’Loughlin claiming the first year Junior Prize, Teggart claiming the Clare County Council Points Classification and Dunbar winning the Wicklow 200 King of the Hills competition.
Meanwhile, Alexander Kristoff won stage 15 of the Tour de France yesterday as the sprinters caught Martin Elmiger and Jack Bauer on the line.
Bauer had disappeared into the lead from the very start of the 222km stage between Tallard and Nimes but was reeled in by the chasing pack in the closing metres.
Stormy conditions and difficult crosswinds made life difficult for Bauer and Elmiger but they maintained their lead until Katusha’s Kristoff led the sprinting pack past — leaving Garmin-Sharp rider Bauer in tears.
It seemed as though the sprinters had miscalculated the time they needed to reel in the long-standing leaders, with a number of roundabouts requiring safe navigation in slippery conditions.
But, as the closing metres were knocked off, Bauer, who eventually came home 10th, and Elmiger — who had worked well together to keep themselves clear — dropped back into the field.
Green jersey holder Peter Sagen came third as Vincenzo Nibali remained in the yellow jersey heading into the 16th stage with a 4mins 37secs lead over Alejandro Valverde.
Elsewhere, Orica-Green-Edge confirmed on Twitter that British rider Simon Yates would take no further part in the Tour.