With just two stages remaining in the An Post Rás, Belfast man Connor McConvey remains in second place overall, tied on time with race leader Marcin Bialoblocki of the UK Youth professional team.
Yesterday’s sixth stage was won by McConvey’s Synergy Baku teammate Rico Rogers, the Aussie sprinter outgunning Great Britain’s Owain Doull, race leader Bialoblocki and the rest of a 50-strong front group into Carlow.
“Today, the main goal was to keep Connor in contention for the overall classification,” said stage winner Rogers. “I was struggling on the hills a little bit with our other sprinter Christophe Schweizer, but we worked hard to come back. We did what we could for Connor and made sure he was in a good position at the end and then we looked for the stage win and came away with it.”
Although yesterday’s stage included five mountains on the road to Carlow, the only real action of the day came when Olan Barrett of Cork Aquablue went clear with compatriots Stephen Halpin (Polygon Sweet Nice), John Lynch (UCD) and Art McManusa (Dublin South) as well as American rider Jake Rytlewksi on the outskirts of Cahir, around 25km into the 150km stage.
This quintet broke apart at the An Post Hot Spot in Urlingford, after 77km, which was won by Barrett with the unlucky Corkman then being forced out of the next move with a broken front wheel.
Rás first-timer Barrett said: “I knew then I was going back to the bunch and after that it was fairly horrible because I got dropped up the first KOM.”
With the lead group caught, Czech rider Martin Hunal set about regaining the lead in the King of the Mountains competition while McConvey was hoping for some more action to try and get rid of the yellow jersey.
“A few teams tried to split it in the crosswinds and on the climbs but I would have liked it to be a bit more aggressive and selective. It’s no big deal,” said the Belfast youngster as the Rás heads into the Wicklow mountains today. “I’m still in contention and with the big mountains coming it’s do or die really.”
A relaxed Bialoblocki spoke of his delight at once again retaining the yellow jersey.
“It was an easy stage for me as the riders out front all day posed no problems to the standings in the GC. I was relaxed and I am happy to be still in yellow.”
Martin Hunal (Czech Republic AC Sparta Praha) reclaimed the King of the Mountains jersey with Simon Yates (Great Britain National Team) once again winning the U23 jersey and Bryan McCrystal putting in a great ride to earn the County Rider jersey.
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