Lacey best of Irish as opener goes Dutch

HOLLAND have two of the race favourites at this weekend’s Kerry Group Rás Mumhan and while neither figured in yesterday’s opening stage, their rookie compatriot Robert-Jan Mol (West Frisia Combilift), stepped up the steal the limelight.

The 21 year-old from Amsterdam highlighted his arrival by winning a ferocious uphill sprint in Killorglin from Sean Lacey, a Kerryman riding for The Edge Sports Team – a new outfit based in Cork – who is hot favourite to keep the title at home for another year.

Lacey, who lost out in yesterday’s sprint by just two seconds, remains on target for overall victory as he lies just four seconds off the lead held by Mol after time bonuses were taken into account.

Andrew Roche (Isle of Man), who won the FBD Insurance RAS in a Kerry jersey, finished third on the stage on the same time as Lacey.

Mol was in a break that escaped from the field of 133 riders shortly after the start in Killorglin. Sean Lacey was the fourth man across to the leaders and the group had grown to 11 when Corkman Tim Barry, who put The Edge Sports Team together, arrived across on his own.

“Timmy was last one across and he was a massive addition to the break,” Lacey said. “He came across by himself which is phenomenal because we weren’t hanging around and then he nearly won the stage.”

The 12-man group represented most of the top teams in the peloton. The Edge Sports had Lacey and Barry, Mol was there from West Frisia Combilift team while Woulder Haan was there from the other Dutch team, Midi Centre Ruiter Wielerteam.

Andrew Roche from the Isle of Man was there, Grant Leavy from Wales, Cameron Austin from Surrey, Neil Delahaye and Fiacra O Muire from Usher IRC, Michael Reddin (South Dublin) and Tiernan Murphy (Irish Development) and Keithy Gater (Comeragh) completed the group.

But a number of the leading contenders missed the break and eventually came in 3 mins 20 secs behind the winner. By Killarney the breakaway group had a lead of 1:25. They increased it to 2:11 at Lauragh where Lacey launched his clean sweep of the of the KOM primes that put him into the mountains jersey at the end of the day. On the return to Killorglin to head out towards Caragh Lake they had a lead of 3:22 on the main bunch. Their lead increased to 3:55 at Caragh Lake.

In Killorglin Tim Barry led the sprint into the corner but the others came screaming up the hill and Mol snatched stage victory from fast-finishing Lacey.

“It is my first win of the year, it’s fantastic,” Mol said. “I was a little bit ill this morning but it was tough. This is my first time to ride a race like this. It is my first season as an amateur.

“I am not a sprinter as such but the finish suited me – the bend and then uphill. I am looking forward to wearing the yellow jersey now because I have a strong team but it will be tough.”

He will have Sean Lacey with an inform team behind him going into today’s gruelling 87 mile stage that finishes on the top of Moll’s Gap after taking in the Category 1 climb at Healy Pass en route.

“It is already shaping up to be a great race,” said Lacey who hails from Tralee where he is a Lecturer at Tralee IT.

“The conditions made it difficult today – it was actually cold all the time in the break because it did not stop raining until the last half hour and it was cold rain so our hands, legs were very cold.”

“Today it was fairly well organised and the others will have a difficult job tomorrow.

Tomorrow’s stage will start and finish in Waterville with a visit to Valentia Island and the race finishes in Killorglin on Monday.

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