There was a nail-biting final stage to the Kerry Group Rás Mumhan, as JB Murphy (Team Leinster) powered home to victory in the final dash up the hill in Killorglin in an exciting two-man sprint with his breakaway compatriot Sean Hahessy (Dan Morrissey-MIG-Pactimo).
The battling duo escaped early in the day and held their slim advantage over a group of 15 chasers on the finishing circuits in Killorglin.
With all the main favourites chasing in the group behind, the pressure was on for the leading pair who stretched their lead up to a maximum of 25 seconds but, with the heat being turned on behind, their advantage was reduced to just 12 second at the finish line.
Murphy, a track-racing specialist, had too much speed for Hahessy and sped past the former Olympian in the last 200m.
Finishing safely in the second group was race leader Ben Healy who had to fight off attacks from the British Ribble Pro Cycling team all afternoon. The 18-year-old riding for the Irish team raised his arms in the air to huge applause as he crossed the line.
Healy, who hails from Waterford, said:
“Yesterday to Coom an Easpaig was definitely where the race was decided, and I was feeling good on that climb so that, as well as some excellent work from my teammates, sealed it.”
Healy led an impressively strong Irish team and will don the green abroad in the coming weeks.
“I’ll be putting on the Irish jersey again soon for some races in Belgium and I’m full of confidence now after this win.”
The Irish team manager Neil Martin, father of Irish cycling hero Dan Martin, paid tribute to the work of the young team over the weekend.
“Ben is a super talent. He broke into the Irish team last year and still has so much potential to develop,” said Martin.
“We had great local knowledge from young Kerry rider Conor Kissane. He knows every turn and every corner around these parts so to have that information was invaluable and then to finish in the top 20 overall himself while working for Ben was a great achievement.
“The future is bright for young Irish riders and races like this help them to develop and transition to the top-level.”
Speaking on behalf of sponsor Kerry Group, Padraig Mallon said the performance of the Irish riders against top international competition was impressive.
“It’s one of the great sporting events here in Kerry. We’re very proud to be behind it, and the racing on show this weekend shows why. It gives young riders a chance to showcase their talent and hopefully this can be where some of the cycling stars of the future get their start.”
On the international front, Sam Bennett and his Bora-Hansgrohe team rounded out a successful Tour of Turkey with three stage victories and the overall classification win thanks to Felix Grossschartner. The Carrick-on-Suir sprinter took the first two stages and came away with the overall green jersey. Bennett’s tally of six wins this season makes him the most successful sprinter in the world.
"It’s our first WorldTour stage race, and I am really proud to be part of it. The whole team did an amazing job” said Bennett.
He will now go back to Ireland full of confidence before building up to his next target, the Tour of Romandie in Switzerland.
“Of course, I am delighted to have won the sprint jersey again here in Istanbul. The plan now is to head home and have a quick break before building up to the goals. ”