MYRON SIMPSON of the New Zealand national team claimed yesterday’s sixth stage of the An Post Rás from Castletownbere to Blarney with a stunning sprint victory into one of the most storied towns in Irish cycling.
The 20-year-old from Auckland — who only rides on the road as training for the track (he is a member of the national team), edged out Tobyn Horton of the UK-based Team Motorpoint and Bastian Burgel of the German Thuringer Energie team in front of a huge crowd.
“I’m over the moon,” Simpson said. “It was tough out there again today. The bunch was coming and I attacked with three kilometres to go, and managed to stay away. I just put my head down but the finish kind of suited an attack like that because it was tricky.”
A former BMX rider in his native country, the Kiwi admitted the Rás is as hard a race as he’s ever encountered.
“I’ve never done anything like this. I’ve done six-day races, but never eight. It’s cold and windy here but it’s like that for us in the winter back home as well.”
Simpson’s team-mate Shane Archbold, who had the yellow jersey on Monday, lost it but Simpson says it’s not all about the yellow. “If we don’t get yellow back, we’ve the U23 jersey for Aaron (Gate) and Shane’s chasing the points jersey as well but we’ve still got three stages left.”
Simpson was part of the day’s decisive break that broke clear of the peloton after the third category climb of Ardyhoulihane outside Bantry after 53kms.
Lachlann Norris (Australia Drapac) and David O’Loughlin (Waterford Comeragh) instigated that move but Simpson and three more, namely, Johannes Kahra (Germany Thuringer Energie), Dean Windsor (Britain Rapha Condor Sharp) and Tobyn Horton (Britain Motorpoint) all made it across successfully.
Their lead swelled to four minutes at one stage which meant overnight leader An Post Sean Kelly’s Gediminas Bagdonas looked in danger of losing yellow as Windsor was well placed to overtake him. But Bagdonas, along with his team-mates and the Ukrainian ISD Lmpare team toiled at the front of the peloton to bring it all back together by the Windy Gap near Coachford.
Norris then set off on his own and with 25kms to go he had a lead of 35 seconds but he was swallowed up by the peloton to make way for the dramatic attack from Simpson. Cork’s Micky O’Reilly, for The Edge/Dan Morrissey netted the county rider prize after he came 17th in the same time as Simpson.
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