Italian rider Francesca Reda is the first race leader of this year’s An Post Rás after a thrilling opening stage from Dunboyne to Carlow yesterday which saw the peloton lose over 10 minutes and Ian Richardson of UCD take the county rider prize.
Team IDEA 2010 man Reda edged Lukas Postlberger (Tirol Cycling) in a two-up sprint to the line after they’d broken away from a 15-man group. Rob Partridge of NFTO led the remnants of that break over the line for third.
The race was frenetic from the off with four category 3 climbs and three Post Office Hot Spot Sprint Primes – with time bonuses on offer.
The first of those climbs came 20km in at Sallins and it was here that a sizeable group stormed to the front and quickly built up a lead.
A decent Irish representation featured in that contingent including the likes of An Post Chainreaction duo of Ryan Mullen and Conor Dunne, Martyn Irvine (Madison Genesis) and county rider Richardson.
Also present and correct were; Lukas Postlberger (Tirol Cycling), Josef Benetseder (Hrinkow Advarics-Cycleangteam), Seb Schonberger (Tirol Cycling), Jaap de Man (Team 3M), Elliott Porter (Team 3M), Christophe Steurs (Team 3M), Rob Partridge (NFTO), Erick Rowsell (Madison Genesis), Mike Cuming (JLT Condor), Francesco Reda (Team IDEA 2010) and Marco Tizza (Team IDEA 2010).
With so many teams represented and some squads having at least two men, it proved a very effective coalition.
Mullen crested the first KOM at the head of affairs in his debut Rás. By this stage 30 kilometres had elapsed and the gap between break and bunch tipped two minutes.
Bryan McCrystal (Team ASEA), Steven Lawley (Dublin South Eurocycles), Mario Schoibl (Tirol Cycling) and another Irishman Daniel Stewart (Antrim Phoenix CC) tried bravely to reel them in.
By the 70km mark the chasers were 90 seconds behind the break with main bunch a further 50 in arrears
The next KOH, at Hacketstown, went to NFTO man Rob Partridge, a seasoned Rás rider who has finished in the top 10 overall before.
But because Elliott Porter was up there on all categorised climbs he claimed the mountains jersey for the day.
That 15-man break never relented and over the halfway mark their lead extended to over three minutes. A second chase group formed approaching the final climb of the day at Kilcommon (94km) with David Wohrer (Tirol Cycling), Ellern Norton (Subaru Albion), Rodolphe Marie (Team Pays De Dinan), Ronan McLaughlin (Cork Aquablue) and Robin Kelly (Mayo Fitscience) to the fore.
With 30km Postlberger (Tirol Cycling) and Reda (Team IDEA 2010) made their move and quickly built a lead of over a minute on the 13 chasers.
Meanwhile, behind, Irvine continued to mop up sprints and subsequent bonus seconds. Postlberger and Reda worked very well and maintained that one-minute advantage entering the final 10 kilometres.
Behind, three groups of 13, 6 and 13 tried to reel them in while staying clear of the main peleton The two leading men rode their hearts out and stayed honest right up until the sprint that decided it, with Reda getting the verdict.
The 32-year-old has served a suspension for missing a drug test, though his ban was reduced when he agreed to give evidence to the CIRC. Today’s stage takes the riders 137 kilometres from Carlow to Tipperary with two climbs; Ninemilehouse (cat 3) after 63 kilometres and Aherlow after 129.
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