The 21-year-old Belfast man won Friday’s opening stage and has retained the race leader’s yellow jersey after consecutive gruelling days over the weekend.
He’s around a minute clear of Ali Macaulay (ASEA-Wheelworx) with the latter’s teammate Bryan McCrystal a few seconds further back.
Yesterday’s stage was won by ex-pro Anto Walsh (Team Aquablue) who took the biggest victory of his career, the Dubliner blasting across the finish line in Waterville ahead of his breakaway companions after 135 kilometres that included the feared cat 1 ascent of the Coom an Easpaigh near Portmagee.
Walsh came home just ahead of Daire Feeley (iTap) and 2014 outright winner Mark Dowling (ASEA-Wheelworx).
That trio had been part of an eight-man breakaway that also included Adam Armstrong (ASEA Wheelworx), Leaving Cert student Darragh O’Mahoney (Irish Development Team), Mark O’Callaghan (Aquablue), Jack Barrett (Bikehaus) and Paddy Clarke (Killarney CC – Pink).
Dowling hit out for home with a long-range attack and built a gap over Feeley and Walsh that reached a maximum of about one minute.
And as the yellow jersey of Chris McGlinchey fell further and further back on the road, it looked like the head of the overall standings would change considerably.
However, as Walsh and Feeley very gradually caught Dowling to make it three men at the head of the race fighting for stage honours, McGlinchey took off on his own back the road and caught and passed a large number of riders.
And while it was Walsh who took the stage from Feeley and Dowling in that order, McGlinchey, incredibly did enough to hold onto his yellow jersey.
Saturday’s stage was won by the aforementioned McCrystal who carved his own chapter into the history of Irish cycling with a solo win on the hardest of days.
Having missed the winning breakaway on the opening stage into Killorglin, the big man from Dundalk – a former pro footballer and the current Ironman national record holder – was clearly out to make amends.
The race concludes today with a hard and fast 117-kilometre stage around Killorglin.
Meanwhile, Dan Martin finished third overall at the conclusion of the Volta A Catalunya yesterday.
He snatched a one second time bonus at an intermediate sprint and drew level with Richie Porte (BMC Racing team) on time on the general standings; behind overall winner Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff).
And when both Martin and Porte finished in a 26-rider select group 14 seconds behind the top three on the stage, they were locked on time overall.
But Martin took third on the basis of his better placing in the points competition.
Katusha’s Alexei Tcatevich took the stage after surviving the early escape.
Elsewhere, Eddie Dunbar was best of the Irish in the U23 Nations Cup event, Gent-Wevelgem, in Belgium yesterday.
The young Corkman was over two minutes behind winner Mads Pedersen.