Ireland’s Matt Teggart can dare to dream as he leads the An Post Rás for the first time in his life with four stages to go.
The 21-year-old Banbridge rider, son of ex-international and well-known Cycling Ireland figure Neill, took the jersey from overnight leader Dennis Bakker (Delta Cycling) after a spectacular stage from Bundoran to Buncrana.
Riding as a professional for the An Post Chain Reaction team is an honour in itself for Teggart and he said winning Tuesday’s humdinger into Bundoran was the summit of his ambitions for the week.
But he went and bettered that by taking the coveted yellow jersey when he was fourth across the line yesterday, taking back the time he needed on Bakker to go into the lead.
“After Tuesday I didn’t think I could top that. To be in yellow today is an absolute dream come true. As an Irishman, taking yellow is an honour. We just have to try my best to hold onto it now,” he said.
Teggart broke his elbow in March at the U23 edition of Liege-Bastogne-Liege and it looked like he’d miss the showpiece event of the year. But he battled back to fitness and though he’s level on time with a string of riders he’s the leader courtesy of his stage finishing positions.
Victory on the day went to Michael Storer of the Australian National Team, who won the queen stage after a breathless 151-kilometre journey from the south of the county.
The 20-year old jumped clear of a small group of riders on the fifth and final climb; the category one ranked Mamore Gap.
Storer has been one of the most talked about riders in Australia in recent years and he announced himself on the world stage when he medalled at the UCI World Championships in the junior men’s time-trial in 2014.
“I went hard up the last few climbs to try and get away. I did my best to get a lot of time and to try and get the stage win as well. I was surprised I could get away in those last few climbs especially Mamore Gap which was tough – it’s a solid climb,” he said.
The break of the day featured Waterford man Marc Flavin (Newry Wheelers), Gruffud Lewis (Madison Genesis), Monday’s stage winner Jan Willem Van Schip (Delta Cycling Rotterdam), Kasperkiewicz Przemyslaw (An Post Chain Reaction), Dexter Gardias (Bike Channel Canyon UK), Joey Walker (Britain Team Wiggins) and Yannis Yssaad (France Armee de Terre).
By the 80-kilometre mark their gap had stretched to two minutes as the strong tailwind aided their cause. And closer to 100 kilometres they were 2’30” ahead of the bunch and doing a very, very good job.
Flavin, the only county rider in the break, was first to buckle from the break though he put in a spectacular ride on the hardest stage of the race so far. That left six leaders out front but not for long as the peloton ramped up their speed and caught the break which led to a fresh round of attacks.
It was truly savage at this point as the riders rode up the third climb of the day at a ferocious pace and it was 27-year-old Jake Sitler of CCB Racing and Storer who moved clear, the latter taking top points over the summit of Pinch Mountain with 30k to go.
Storer was flying and opted to go solo on the category one Mamore Gap. He started the day 3’03” down so was very keen to try and claw that deficit back.
Behind in the chase was Thomas Rostollan (Armee de Terre), Teggart (An Post Chain Reaction) as well as a flying Mark Dowling (Strata3/VeloRevolution).
Storer was clear with 10 kilometres to go but he was being closely stalked by Sitler who was doing his best to close the 30-second deficit while Przemyslaw was a further 40 seconds back.
But it was the young Australian who held on for a memorable victory with Sitler doing really well to nab second and Morgan Kneisky (Armee de Terre) emerging from the chase group behind to nab third.
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