Following two days as runner up to Chris Newton, former top European professional Malcolm Elliott turned the tables on his rival today in winning stage four of the FBD Insurance Rás. The 43 year old Yorkshire – Trinity Capital rider went into the final 200 metres of today’s 162 kilometre stage on the race leader’s wheel and choose his moment perfectly to thunder by and take his first stage win of the 2005 race.
|Malcolm Elliott winning stage 4 into Templemore|
Newton (GB – Recycling.co.uk) finished second into Templemore, preserving his eight second lead over Elliott in the general classification, while Irish riders Eugene Moriarty (Meath – Cycleways.com) and Paul Healion (Dublin – Usher Insulations) were third and fourth respectively. Morten Hegreberg (Norway – Sparebanken Vest), who lies third overall behind Newton and Elliott, was fifth. In all 110 riders sprinted it out for the win on what was the first bunch sprint of this year’s race.
Today’s result means that the general classification is essentially unchanged. The gaps between Newton, Elliott and Hegreberg remain the same, while Robin Sharman (GB – Recycling.co.uk) and Tim Barry (Tipperary Dan Morrissey) flip their positions but remain 2 minutes and 32 seconds back in fourth and fifth place overall.
Newton stays on top in the points classification, while Moriarty preserves his six point lead in the King of the Mountains classification.
Today’s stage featured a long distance breakaway by seven riders. Zach Bell (Canada – Jet Fuel Coffee), Are Andresen (Norway – Sparebanken Vest), Duncan Urquhart (Scotland), Mark Lovatt, Tommy Evans (both Yorkshire – Trinity Capital), John Charlesworth (NE England) and Philip Cassidy (Meath – Cycleways.com) were away for much of the day and, despite a high speed chase by Newton’s GB – Recycling.co.uk team, it looked likely that they would fight out the stage win between them.
Lovatt, Evans, Cassidy and Charlesworth struck for home on the final descent, leaving the other three and turning on the afterburners as they raced on to the finish in Templemore. However, disaster struck when Cassidy and Charlesworth overshot a dangerous bend and ended up in a ditch. Bell and Andresen also went down. Evans and Lovatt pressed on, but with just two of them trying to hold off the fast-closing bunch, it was a very difficult task. Evans cracked with two kilometres to go, while Lovatt was overhauled inside the final 100 metres. He will be deeply frustrated at losing out on the chance of taking his first ever stage win in the Irish tour.
|Eugene Moriarty & Vincent Gleeson making a school visit in Lisdoonvarna|
How it happened:
Today’s fourth stage saw the riders face four climbs on the 162 kilometres between Lisdoonvarna and Templemore. However, with each being third category ascents, they were unlikely to have as pronounced an effect as did the cat two Corkscrew Hill yesterday.
183 starters lined out in wet conditions, with four riders – J Skiles Keith (US – Guinness), Brian Stewart (Dublin Usher Insulations), Scott McDonald (Dublin Dundrum Shopping Centre) and Gerard Ivory (Wicklow South) not signing on. As soon as things got underway the high speed began to exact a toll, with riders being jettisoned off the back of the bunch and so facing up to the prospect of a long day in the saddle.
There were several early attempts to go clear. Duncan Urquhart (Scotland), one of the main aggressors of this year’s race, attacked alone and when that didn’t work, he tried again with Paídi O’Brien (Ireland Grant Thornton), Andrei Mustonen (Estonia – Kalev Chocolate), Stian Remme (Norway – Sparebanken Vest) and John Charlesworth (NE England). These too were recaptured and by the 26 kilometre point, everything was back together.
Four kilometres later, nine riders surged forward and had better luck. A persistent Urquhart was present, as was Stephen Gallagher (Ireland – Grant Thornton), Kevin Miller (Canada – Jet Fuel Coffee), Rostislav Krotky (Czech Republic – Elmarco KK Cube), Ian MacGregor (US – TIAA CREF), Ben Greenwood (GB – Recycling.co.uk), Tommy Evans (Yorkshire – Trinity Capital), Denis Lynch (Cork – Kanturk) and Philip Cassidy (Meath – Cycleways.com).
By Ennis, (38 kilometres) the break had 28 seconds. MacGregor dropped back with derailleur problems, making it eight up front, while Andrei Mustonen (Estonia – Kalev Chocolates) and Stian Remme (Norway – Sparebanken Vest) joined up with Morten Christiansen (Norway – Sparebanken Vest) and Donald Reeb (US – Guinness) to try to get across. This effort was unsuccessful, as was a subsequent chase by Jan Novak (Czech Republic – Elmarco KK Cube), Anthony Malarczyk (Britain – Fujibikes.com), Gabriel Rasch (Norway – Sparebanken Vest), Paul Manning (GB – Recycling.co.uk) and Kevin Dawson (Yorkshire – Trinity Capital).
Although neither group was able to get across, efforts by the bunch to keep them in check caused the break to come back to eighteen seconds after approximately 50 kilometres. Sensing danger, Mustonen, Evans, Urquhart and Cassidy attacked the rest of the break and pressed on ahead. Mustonen slipped back soon afterwards, but Zach Bell (Canada – Jet Fuel Coffee), Are Andresen (Norway – Sparebanken Vest), Mark Lovatt (Yorkshire – Trinity Capital) and John Charlesworth (NE England) managed to get across.
This was a promising break. Cassidy and Evans have won three Rasanna between them, Lovatt was a former wearer of the yellow jersey and each of the seven were strong, able riders. Joining forces, the septet ramped up the speed and started to draw clear of the peloton, now being led by race leader Chris Newton’s GB – Recycling.co.uk team. Stuart Gillespie (US TIAA – CREF) and Kristian House (Britain – Fujibikes) made their own bid to bridge, later being caught and assisted by Simon Saunders (Surrey Racing League), but three against seven meant that their task was a difficult one.
Kevin Dawson, eighth placed overall, hit a pothole and went down hard after approximately 58 kilometres. He remounted and rejoined the bunch, but a bad cut to his knee and a blow to the head meant that his continued participation would be assessed after the stage.
After 65 kilometres, the 7 leaders were a minute and a half clear of the three chasers as they raced onto the lower slopes of the day’s first climb. Evans led over the top of the second category ascent, netting five KOH points for his effort, while Andresen, Lovatt and Bell were next past the prime line. Further down the road, Denis Lynch (Cork – Kanturk) jumped out of the bunch and caught the three leaders, only for them to give up the ghost shortly afterwards.
Cassidy led over the second climb, Ballybrack, with Lovatt, Andresen and Bell en tow. The riders were just approaching the halfway point by now and had just over two minutes lead. With Newton’s team content to ride tempo at the front of the bunch, the break carried the bulk of this advantage onto the day’s third climb, Lackamore, where Lovatt led Urquhart, Bell and Evans across the top.
With 50 kilometres remaining the gap was 1 minute and 46 kilometres, but on the final climb of Curreeney Cross this dropped to just over a minute. Conscious that the peloton were getting closer, Lovatt first called for greater effort from his breakaway companions, then attacked going over the top. Cassidy, Bell and Andresen were next past the prime but, realising that Lovatt wasn’t waiting around, Cassidy continued his effort and was joined by Charlesworth, both getting back up to the Yorkshire – Trinity Capital rider.
Behind, Evans realised that things were getting serious and he attacked the remainder of the bunch, briding the gap. Simultaneously, Cassidy slipped back and trailed the three leaders by about 100 metres as they started the descent. The double Rás winner knew it was now or never, and so he put his head down and started to gradually get back on terms.
Then, disaster. Riding at high speed down the descent, the riders rounded an unexpectedly tight bend. The wet roads made a difficult corner even more treacherous, and both Charleworth and Cassidy overshot the turn and ended up in the ditch. Seconds later, Urquhart and Andresen did likewise, leaving Lovatt and Evans alone up front.
The duo paused for a moment, stunned by what had happened, but upon realising that the others were out of the picture, floored it once again and commenced a two-up team time trial. With the bunch now fully committed to taking them back, they would have been grateful of one or two others to help. But, while the fallen riders were able to remount, they were too far back to be of use.
Going through Templederry with 19 kilometres to go, the two leaders had a minute and fifteen seconds. Staying clear to the end looked possible at that point, especially with their team-mate John Tanner doing what he could to foil the chase, but the gap started to plummet as GB – Recycling.co.uk turned on the afterburners.
With ten kilometres to go the two leaders were just 23 seconds ahead. By the three kilometre point they had just nine seconds and with the finale all on fast, flat, wide roads, the advantage had definitely shifted to the peloton.
Evans dug deep but blew with two kilometres to go, sitting up and going straight out the back of the bunch. Lovatt persisted, searching for every last dreg of energy as he tried to take his first Rás stage win, but he was heartbreakingly overhauled inside the last 200 metres. Newton’s confidence was high after two successive stage victories and he led out the gallop, but with Elliott perfectly placed on his wheel he was able to come around him just before the line and take what was his third Rás stage win. King of the mountains leader Eugene Moriarty (Meath – Cycleways.com) took third, while fellow Irishman Paul Healion (Dublin – Usher Insulations) finished ahead of Morten Hegreberg (Norway – Sparebanken Vest) and Yanto Barker (Wales Stena Line) for fourth.
Crash victims Cassidy and Charleworth came home towards the rear of the bunch while the other fallers, Bell and Urquhardt, were 3 minutes 13 seconds and 19 minutes 12 seconds back respectively. All were fortunately well enough to finish the stage, but with will have rued what was definitely a missed opportunity. Lovatt stayed clear until just before the line; if he had had more assistance, a different group may well have been sprinting for the stage win.
In terms of the overall classification, today’s bunch sprint meant that there was little change at the top. Newton continues to hold an eight second advantage over Elliott, while Hegreberg is a further two minutes and eight seconds back. Rob Sharman’s (GB – Recycling.co.uk) better placing on the stage means he moves ahead of leading Irish rider Tim Barry (Tipperary Dan Morrissey), the latter dropping a place to fifth, but both are on the same time. Barker is sixth with Gabriel Rasch (Norway – Sparebanken Vest) seventh. Newton continues to lead the points classification despite Elliott’s win today, while Moriarty stays on top in the King of the Mountains competition.
‘The last two days I haven’t been quite up to power, but today it all fell into place,’ said Elliott after the stage. ‘I didn’t think it was going to be a bunch sprint today – when the break went I thought I would stay away. Then, at the end when there were just two riders from my own team left in front, I thought it couldn’t be any better for us. Unfortunately it didn’t stay that way, the pace picked up towards the end as people started sending possible victory. The speed became too great for Tommy and Mark to deal with, and everything came together right at the finish. So for me to win is a consolation, really. If they couldn’t win, me getting it is the next best thing, really.’
‘I didn’t feel totally great today. There were time when things felt harder than they should have, when Recycling were chasing the break. I said to myself “my legs feel heavy today”. I was happy when that break got clear as it meant that Recycling had to do some work, so that was good in keeping them occupied. We had two guys out of seven up there, which are good odds, but when things whittled down and the others came back one by one, it was a dream scenario. I think at that point Recycling would probably have been happy to hold them out there because they were not a threat to the overall. But then it was just that little bit too far and they didn’t have quite enough of a lead. A few other teams started coming up and pitching in – why I don’t know, it was a bit of a mystery. There were some teams there at the front and you would think, okay, what are they doing that for?’
‘But, okay, that is racing. Unfortunately they were caught right at the end. I actually would have preferred if they got one and two on the stage, but winning the sprint was a good relief. It was a weight off my shoulders to get a stage win.’
‘Things were a bit different today. Chris (Newton) led out from quite a way, so I just had to choose my moment to come around him, really. It was relatively straightforward. It is always a bit choppy on the run-in here, there are guys coming up and trying to get involved in the sprint who maybe aren’t particularly fast. You just think “get out of the way!” It just makes thinga a bit complicated.’
Eugene Moriarty, KOH leader and third on the stage:
‘Today was good for me. I haven’t seen the final points tally after today but I still have the jersey, which was the main thing. Anyone who was close to me on the classification this morning didn’t get any points, so the ball is still in my court. Tomorrow will be a rough day so if anyone did impinge on my lead today, they should be feeling tired tomorrow.’
‘I should be relatively fresh and I am obviously sprinting very well. I was a bit disappointed with my sprint, even though I was against some very fast guys. I got boxed in twice inside the last 500 metres, but I definitely think it bodes well for the rest of the week.’
‘I am delighted with the way I am going. I haven’t really been able to train properly since before Easter because I have been having a lot of knee trouble. I have been going well in the Rás, so a lot of people have been scratching their heads with regards to me having the mountains jersey.’
‘I am happy enough going into tomorrow’s climbs. I couldn’t have asked for things to be better today – I did a lot of racing in the first 25 miles today but then settled back and took it easier. Everybody is getting a bit tired at this point, you would be superhuman if you didn’t feel it, but I think it bodes well. I am relatively fresh. I am looking around the bunch and there are a lot of guys in trouble. But I don’t seem to be – touch wood – like that, I haven’t hit a bad day yet so hopefully things will keep going to plan.’
Paul Healion, fourth on the stage and wearer of the blue jersey on the podium:
‘I am very happy with today’s result. It is my best showing in the Rás to date, so to be up here on the podium is great.’
FBD Insurance Rás stage 4, Lisdoonvarna - Templemore:
1, Malcolm Elliott (Yorkshire – Trinity Capital) 162 kilometres in 4 hours 2 minutes 58 secs
2, Chris Newton (Recycling.co.uk)
3, Eugene Moriarty (Meath - Cycleways.com)
4, Paul Healion (Dublin Usher Insulations)
5, Morten Hegreberg (Norway – Sparebanken Vest)
6, Yanto Barker (Wales Stena Line)
7, Sigvard Kuuk (Estonia – Kalev Chocolates)
8, Arne Hinrichsen (Germany – Stevens von Hacht)
9, John Tanner (Yorkshire – Trinity Capital)
10, Rostislav Krotky (Czech Republic – Elmarco KK Cube)
11, Mark Cassidy (Meath – Cycleways.com)
12, Richard Kooijman (Netherlands – Kennemerland)
13, Mart Ojavee (Estonia – Kalev Chocolate)
14, Nathan Mitchell (US – TIAA CREF)
15, Aidan Crowley (Meath – Cycleways.com) all same time
County rider (Cuchulainn Crystal): Eugene Moriaarty
Formoyle, category 3:
1, Tommy Evans (Yorkshire Trinity Capital) 5 points
2, Are Andresen (Norway – Sparebanken Vest) 4 pts
3, Mark Lovatt (Yorkshire Trinity Capital) 3 pts
4, Zach Bell (Canada – Jet Fuel Coffee) 2 pts
Ballybrack, category 3:
1, Philip Cassidy (Meath – Cycleways.com) 5 pts
2, Mark Lovatt (Yorkshire – Trinity Capital) 4 pts
3, Are Andresen (Norway – Sparebanken Vest) 3 pts
4, Zach Bell (Canada – Jet Fuel Coffee) 2 pts
Lackamore, category 3:
1, Mark Lovatt (Yorkshire – Trinity Capital) 5 pts
2, Duncan Urquhart (Scotland) 4
3, Zach Bell (Canada – Jet Fuel Coffee) 3
4, Tommy Evans (Yorkshire Trinity Capital) 2
Curreeney Cross, category 3:
1, Mark Lovatt (Yorkshire – Trinity Capital) 5 pts
2, Phil Cassidy (Meath – Cycleways.com) 4
3, Zach Bell (Canada – Jet Fuel Coffee) 3
4, Are Andresen (Norway – Sparebanken Vest) 2
General Classification (George Plant trophy):
1, Chris Newton, 14 hours 37 mins 22 secs
2, Elliott, at 8 secs
3, Hegreberg, at 2 mins 16 secs
4, Robin Sharman (GB – Recycling.co.uk) at 2 mins 32 secs
5, Tim Barry (Tipperary Dan Morrissey) same time
6, Yanto Barker (Wales Stena Line) at 2 mins 37 secs
7, Gabriel Rasch (Norway – Sparebanken Vest) same time
8, Kevin Dawson (Yorkshire – Trinity Capital) at 3 mins 4 secs
9, Conor Murphy (Ireland – Grant Thornton) at 5 min 1 sec
10, Stuart Gillespie (US – TIAA CREF) at 5 mins 11 secs
11, John Tanner (Yorkshire – Trinity Capital) at 5 mins 29 secs
12, Evan Oliphant (Scotland) at 6 mins 1 sec
13, Sean Lacey (Meath M. Donnelly) at 6 mins 15 secs
14, John Dempsey (Ireland – Grant Thornton) same time
15, Sigvard Kukk (Estonia – Kalev Chocolate) at 6 mins 22 secs
1, Chris Newton, 56 points
2, Elliott, 53
3, Hegreberg, 40
4, Barker, 29
5, Tanner, 25
Mountains classification (Brendan Carroll trophy):
1, Eugene Moriarty, 23
2, Hegreberg, 17
3, Lovatt, 17
4, Urban, 16
5, Gallagher, 10
Under 23 classification (Ben McKenna Trophy):
1, Stuart Gillespie (US – TIAA CREF) 14 hours 42 mins 33 secs
2, Alex Coutts (Scotland) at 3 mins
3, Ian MacGregor (US – TIAA CREF) at 4 mins 29 secs
4, Ben Greenwood (GB – Recycling.co.uk) same time
5, Paídi O’Brien (Ireland – Grant Thornton) at 4 mins 56 secs
County rider overall (Cycleways):
1, Tim Barry, 14 hours 39 mins 54 secs
2, Sean Lacey (Meath – M. Donnelly) at 3 mins 43 secs
3, Philip Cassidy (Meath – Cycleways.com) at 4 mins 8 secs
4, Andrew Roche (Tipperary – Worldwide Cycles) at 4 mins 11 secs
5, Eugene Moriarty, at 4 mins 12 secs
Second category rider:
1, Mark McLeavey (Dublin Dundrum Shopping Centre) 10 hours 47 mins 9 secs
2, Barry Meehan (Tipperary Worldwide Cycles) at 6 secs
3, Stephen Enright (Dublin Usher Insulations) at 3 mins 38 secs
4, Tom Greene (Kildare Ena Loakman Remax) at 13 mins 4 secs
5, Cormac O’Shea (Kildare Ena Loakman Remax) at 24 mins 20 secs
International team overall:
1, Yorkshire – Trinity Capital, 44 hours 00 mins 49 secs
2, Norway – Sparebanken Vest, at 3 mins 4 secs
3, GB – Recycling.co.uk, at 3 mins 30 secs
4, Ireland – Grant Thornton, at 11 mins 32 secs
5, Wales – Stena Line, at 13 mins 58 secs
County team overall:
1, Meath Cycleways.com, 44 hours 15 mins 38 secs
2, Tipperary Dan Morrissey, at 1 min 24 secs
3, Meath M. Donnelly, at 4 mins 7 secs
4, Tipperary Worldwide Cycles, at 6 mins 44 secs
5, Cork Nucleus, at 7 mins 30 secs