Corkman Robert-Jon McCarthy claimed a popular victory on stage 2 of the Rás Tailteann into Tipperary as he sprinted home first in a fast finish.
Heavy rain at the start made for treacherous conditions as the riders rolled out of Athlone.
Day two of the race extended 148.7 kilometres from Athlone to Tipperary, and had the category two ascent of Bikepark just over an hour after the drop of the flag.
The combination of rain and narrow roads took its toll on the peloton, causing multiple riders to crash on the descent Cat 2 climb with medical and mechanical service being required for numerous riders including Matteo Cigala, who wore the jersey for best county rider after his strong 12th place on stage 1.
The swift assistance from the race organisation allowed all riders to proceed safely as they moved on to two category three climbs which came before a flat, fast run in to the finish into Tipperary town.
The main move of the day came shortly before the 100km mark and was initiated by Fintan Ryan of the Irish team.
The Wicklow man established a 30-second gap before eventually being joined by Conn McDunphy of team Holdsworth. The duo worked well together before being reeled back in as they neared the outskirts of Tipperary.
It was then McCarthy cruised past Bugter (Delta Cycling Rotterdam) and De Vylder (Belgian National Team) who finished second and third respectively.
McCarthy, who is making his international debut this week for the Irish team, is no stranger to victory at the Rás — he won stage 1 in 2014 and wore the yellow jersey for a day.
Swiss rider Cyrille Thiery retained the yellow jersey as overall leader. Damien Shaw is the highest place Irish rider in third place just 11 seconds off the lead.
Former Irish internationalPáidí O’Brien (Team Gerard-DHL) rolled back the years to take eighth on the stage and will wear the jersey for best county rider on stage 3.
Day three today will be a mainly flat stage which will be expected to be raced at high-speeds. It extends 140.4 kilometres between Tipperary and Listowel, and will likely end in a bunch gallop.
The last time the Rás rolled into Listowel in 2013 it was Sam Bennett who prevailed.
Bennett is currently competing in the Giro D’italia where he has so far won two stages. The Italian ‘grand tour’ is heading into it’s third and final week and is second only to the Tour de France in terms of prestige.
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