Just 24 hours after An Post Rás yellow jersey wearer Francesca Reda was thrown off the race for receiving an illegal tow, his teammate Matteo Malucelli of Team IDEA 2010 ASD claimed stage 3 into Bearna yesterday.
Clearly irate over the disqualification of stage 1 winner Reda and the removal from the race of team manager Alberto Elli, the Italians raced with a point to prove yesterday.
With an early move by Daniel Stewart (Antrim Phoenix) and Robin Kelly (Mayo Coleman Electronics) mopped up, another group comprised mainly of county men went on the attack on the second half of the 156km trek from Tipperary to Bearna, Co. Galway.
In that move were Morgan Smith (Team Subaru Albion), Roger Aiken (Louth Team Asea), Jimmy Janssens (Team 3M), Anthony Walsh (Cork Aquablue) and Sean McKenna (Cork Aquablue).
They battled as hard as they could but on wide roads into a tough breeze as they neared Beara the peloton got closer and closer. Their lead began to drastically dwindle with 25 kilometres to go after a burst of acceleration from the chasing pack reduced it down to just 1’ 45”; the race could have gone either way at this point.
Aiken sat up with 10k to go, leaving a five man lead group with a 45 second advantage trying desperately to hold on into a stiff headwind.
Well inside the last 5k and it was Davide Vigano (Italy Team IDEA 2010 ASD) who jumped across to the leaders on his own but with only three kilometres to go the lead group were caught and a thrilling sprint finish ensued to the excitement of the roaring locals.
Malucelli eventually prevailed with an impressive show of power on the finishing straight to give his team their second stage win of the race.
Alex Frame (New Zealand National Team) was 2nd, with Andreas Hofer (Hrinkow Advarics Cycleangteam) in 3rd.
The top county rider on the day was former Rás yellow jersey Peter Hawkins. He is riding for Down North-Graham Powerhouse Sport this week and was a very impressive 4th.
Lukas Postlberger (Tirol Cycling Team) retained the Yellow Jersey and Points Classification jersey after an eight place finish. Best County Rider once again went to Ian Richardson (Dublin UCD) while Jaap de Man (Team 3M) was ever present to claim the Under-23 classification. Robert Partridge (Team NFTO) also keeps hold of the mantle of King of the Mountains.
Dublin UCD rider, Ian Richardson, put on another scintillating display of riding to finish on the same time as the stage winner, leaving him in joint fifth place on the general classification.
Richardson was again all smiles at the finish line and is taking a lot of confidence from his performances.
“It’s an incredible boost for my confidence, knowing that you’re in the top five riders on the GC (General Classification). It makes you fight that bit more and want it that bit more. I’m just going to keep riding as hard as I can and who knows what will happen on the rest of the stages.”
Meanwhile, it emerged Alberto Elli of Team IDEA 2010 ASD became involved in what one source described as “heated protests” to commissaires at the race headquarters hotel on Monday night.
And because the commissaires and race organisers were unhappy with his conduct he was told he was being removed from the race. He had initially appealed the decision to disqualify Reda and when that was rejected in the hours after stage 2 from Carlow to Tipperary ended (on Monday) he went to the hotel to meet the officials afterwards.
He made efforts to lodge another appeal but when he was informed this was not possible he protested very strongly and in a manner that has proven unacceptable. His exclusion completed a nightmare day for his team when Reda was seen taking a prolonged tow from his team car as he tried to regain the front group.
But they came back with a bang yesterday and will be keen to further show what they’re capable of as the race unfolds for the remainder of the week.
Today’s stage takes the riders 155 kilometres from Bearna to Newport in County Mayo.
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