Another fast and furious day on the An Post Rás saw a new rider in the yellow jersey yesterday as Swiss professional Pirmin Lang of the Atlas Personal Jackroo team outsprinted a seven-man lead group to take victory on stage two into Gort.
Lang had spent much of the 158km stage out front in the company of British quartet Dale Appleby (East Midlands Metaltek), Richard Handley (Rapha Condor Sharp), James Moss (Node4 Giordana) and Richard Tanguy (UK Youth Cycling), Namibian Dan Craven (IG — Sigma Sport), Dane Christian Jensen (Blue Water Cycling) and Belfast youngster Connor McConvey of An Post, building up a maximum lead of almost four minutes by the midpoint of the stage.
With so many strong international teams represented in the move, there was much discussion in the peloton as to who would close the gap, before the French formed an alliance with the Czech squad and began to eat into the escapees’ lead in the closing kilometres.
In between bunch and break, a group containing Isle of Man rider Graeme Hatcher and Irish quintet Conor McAlister (Antrim Chain Reaction), Patrick Clarke (Mayo Western Edge), Simon Ryan (Tipperary DMG Visit Nenagh) and Carlow Dan Morrissey duo Sean Lacey and Robin Kelly hovered in no man’s land for much of the stage, before being caught outside Scariff after 123km.
“When I attacked, I was hoping our group would be joined by a few stronger riders later on, and then you never know what could happen,” said Lacey afterwards. “We worked pretty well together but we didn’t have the power in the group to make headway. When the group did come across to us in the end, it was the whole bunch and they flew by us, full gas. I was expecting it a bit so I made sure to eat and drink before they came and I think I was the only one from the group to finish in the bunch.”
As Craven mopped up enough points on the final climbs of Ogonelloe, Lecarrow, Aylebaun and Killenena, Welsh youngster Tanguy went out the back door of the break to leave seven up front as the peloton tore along behind, cutting their deficit to under a minute going over the last climb with 15km to go.
“The break rode away pretty easily and then it was kind of tempo all day,” said McConvey having taken sixth on the stage. “The cooperation wasn’t great. A lot of guys died at the end and the gap of four minutes evaporated really quickly. It’s always good to get a few seconds. It’s just a pity about the stage. I tried to get away because I can’t sprint out of a paper bag but we had a 46kph average for the stage so you have to have massive power to be able to skip away there.”
In the wide open gallop to the line, Lang outgunned British sprinters Appleby and Moss to take his team’s first Rás stage win. “I was really up for the sprint,” said Appleby at the finish. “I’m quite fast from a small group but he just had more left in the end. He was stronger than me in the sprint. He was strong all day.”
Lang now leads the race overall but finds himself on the same time as his six breakaway companions from yesterday, who fill the top seven spots on GC.
“We didn’t really know what to expect in Ireland but we hoped to get a good result here,” said Lang, the 27-year-old from Arburg. “With third yesterday and now a stage win, it’s a good start for us. Sometimes after a long day out front, the legs are tired but I felt good today. I thought, 500m from the finish, I could win it.
“We hope to have a chance of some more results but we don’t have a plan to defend the jersey yet.”
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