The An Post Chain Reaction celebrated their second stage win in as many days at the Rás yesterday on a savage day that saw the field split to pieces.
Latvian Aidis Kruopis emulated teammate Aaron Gate’s win of 24 hours earlier on the brutal 160km stage from Bearna to Newport, Co Mayo while another An Post man, Irishman Ryan Mullen, gave himself a real shot of winning the race outright.
And there was more good news from an Irish perspective as world track champion Martyn Irvine (Madison Genesis) was also to the fore when the peloton broke up, making the large leading group that was away for most of the stage.
— The Break Away (@TheBreakAwayBel) May 20, 2015
And when the 22-rider leading group began to splinter in the last hour of racing, Irvine was again to the fore and managed to take fourth on the stage and move into third overall, though failing to gain any time on the yellow jersey of Lukas Postlberger (Tirol Cycling Team).
Irish national road race and time trial champion Mullen finished in the same time as Irvine, crossing the line in seventh place to move up to fourth overall.
Mullen is the new leader of the U23 classification.
Ian Richardson of UCD CC retains his lead in the county rider classification, with Ronan McLaughlin (Cork-Aquablue) taking the county award on the stage.
From the off, the Irish were keen to get stuck in and Ronan McLaughlin (Cork Aquablue) and Robin Kelly (Mayo Coleman Electronics TKE) were first to venture up the road shortly after the start but were brought back.
Dominic Jelfs (Madison Genesis) and Eric Johnstone (Canada) were next to go and were joined by Ian Bibby (NFTO) and Alessandro Pettiti (Team IDEA 2010 ASD) to get across.
They quickly pulled out 30 seconds, prompting a reaction from the bunch, with another group trying to get across. They were reigning Rás champion Clemens Fankhauser (Hrinkow Advarics Cycleangteam), Jeremy Durrin (Neon Velo Cycling Team), Chris Reilly (Down North Graham Powerhouse Sport), Stephen Murray (Cork Strata3-Velorevolution RT) and David Watson (Down North Graham Powerhouse Sport).
Following a series of attacks, the field behind then split significantly with a 13-rider chase group pulling clear including the yellow jersey of Lukas Postlberger (Tirol Cycling) and all five riders from the An Post-Chainreaction team; Ryan Mullen, Aidis Kruopis, Joshua Edmondson, Conor Dunne and Aaron Gate.
Also present were Mario Schoibl (Tirol Cycling Team), Jaap de Man (Team 3M), New Zealand duo Marc Ryan and Alex Frame, Ronan McLaughlin (Cork Aquablue) and Patrick Clarke and Robin Kelly, who were caught by the chasers.
After 40km the two groups merged, forming a large escape of 22 riders, with the next group just 30 seconds back.
At the front, there followed repeated attacks by Ronan McLaughlin who escaped a number of times only to be caught before pulling clear properly with Jimmy Janssens (Team 3M).
And with around 100km covered, they had 1:40 on the yellow jersey group.
After 120km, and with the chase after the leaders become more intense, the large yellow jersey group split in two; with 14 men from it pressing ahead after McLaughlin and Janssens.
They soon caught the two leaders, leaving a 16-man move out front. Kroupis, a former Orica GreenEdge rider, then attacked and was joined by last year’s winner Fankhauser, Bibby and Vigano. With 25km remaining, they had 40 seconds in the chasers. Yellow jersey Postlberger and Edmondson then attacked the chase group and caught the leaders.
There followed several attacks by Aidis Kroupis. However, while he failed to get clear he took the stage from a sprint in Newport from Davide Vigano (Team IDEA 2010 ASD), Ian Bibby (NFTO) and Irvine (Madison Genesis), whose group caught the others in the closing stages. Postlberger now leads from Edmondson, with Irvine third and Mullen fourth.
The Russian Zakarin was part of a 10-strong break on the 153km stage from Forli and made his move on the penultimate climb of the day, striking out alone to beat Carlos Betancur (AG2R La Mondiale) into second with Italy’s Franco Pellizotti (Androni) in third.
Contador (Tinkoff Saxo) goes into stage 12 with a three-second lead over Aru with another Astana rider, Mikel Landa Meana in third.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved