After five stages of aggressive riding, the Norway – Sparebanken Vest team got their payback today when Morten Christiansen outsprinted Irish riders Simon Kelly (Cork Nucleus) and Roger Aiken (Louth – Safe Cycling) plus five other breakaway companions to win the 143 kilometre race from Templemore to Abbeyleix.
|Morten Christiansen outsprinting Irish riders Simon Kelly (Cork Nucleus) and Roger Aiken (Louth – Safe Cycling)|
Christiansen was set up perfectly for the win by the leadout of team-mate Are Andresen, the unselfish effort enough to carry him clear of Kelly, Aiken, Mark Lovatt (Yorkshire – Trinity Capital), Kevin Miller (Canada – Jet Fuel Coffee), Rostilav Krotky (Czech Republic – Elmarco KK Cube) and Denis Lynch (Cork – Kanturk).
|Chris Newton leading out the bunch|
Meath Cycleways.com rider Eugene Moriarty led home the main bunch for ninth, but lost the King of the Mountains jersey he had been wearing for the past three days. Hot on Moriarty’s heels in the sprint were Chris Newton (GB – Recycling.co.uk), Yanto Barker (Wales – Stena Line) and Malcolm Elliott (Yorkshire – Trinity Capital). Newton and Elliot thus preserved their first and second places overall and ensured a big showdown over the remaining three days.
The rest of the general classification stayed essentially unchanged, although Tim Barry (Tipperary Dan Morrissey) moved up one place to fourth while Conor Murphy (Ireland – Grant Thornton) punctured at a bad time and dropped from ninth to 38th overall.
Today’s fifth stage was billed as one of the hardest of the race, with five tough climbs. These included the gruelling first category ascents of The Crag and The Butts but, despite their severity, 54 riders finished within a minute of the stage winner. The biggest effect of the stage was the change at the top of the Mountains classification, with 2000 race winner and former KOH winner Julian Winn wresting the polka dot jersey off the shoulders of Moriarty with three prime wins. Four points now separate the two riders, and with Mark Lovatt, Stephen Gallagher (Ireland – Grant Thornton) and Paul Healion (Dublin – Usher Insulations) all close by, this contest is far from over. So too the general classification, with a humdinger of a battle to play out over the next three stages.
How it happened:
Today’s fifth stage was the hardest yet for the riders, with five categorised climbs in store. The first of two category one ascents would begin just 31 kilometres after the start in Templemore. After The Crag they faced Grangehill (category 3, 34.6 km), another first cat climb, The Butts (99.5 km), plus the second category Uskerty Hill (category 2, 110 km) and Glenmagoo (118.7 km). 169 signed on for the 144 kilometre stage to Abbeyleix, bright skies providing a welcome contrast to the poor weather of recent days.
|Julian Winn takes the KOM jersey|
Things got off to an active start when four riders went clear in the opening two kilometres. Stephen Gallagher (Ireland – Grant Thornton), Peter Vermeulen (Netherlands – Kennemerland), Duncan Urquhart (Scotland) and Andrew Roche (Tipperary Worldwide Cycles) were quickly joined by Stian Remme (Norway – Sparebanken Vest), Stuart MacGregor (Scotland – West) and Dave Peelo (Dublin Wheelers – All Systems), making it seven riders clear.
This group was reinforced minutes later by the addition of Sigvard Kukk (Estonia – Kalev Chocolate), Malte Urban (Germany – Stevens von Hacht), Morten Hegreberg (Norway – Sparebanken Vest), Tommy Evans (Yorkshire – Trinity Capital) and the mountains classification leader Eugene Moriarty (Meath – Cycleways). Yet, despite the presence of several strong riders in the break, the bunch quickly closed them down.
Following a few minutes of relative calm, Kevin Miller (Canada – Jet Fuel Coffee) had a go. He was clear for a couple of kilometres but then brought back; however, he soon set off up the road again with perennial attacker Duncan Urquhart (Scotland) and the similarly aggressive Philip Cassidy (Meath – Cycleways.com) for company. Peter Vermeulen (Netherlands – Kennemerland), Robert Partridge (Wales – Stena Line), Mark Lovatt (Yorkshire – Trinity Capital) and Paul Healion (Dublin – Usher Insulation) arrived soon afterwards and, combining well, the group started to draw clear. Jens Schwedler (Germany – Stevens von Hacht) and Morten Christiansen (Norway – Sparebanken Vest) also managed to get across.
Twenty kilometres into the stage, the nine leaders had an advantage of 19 seconds. Chris Daddy (NE England) attacked the bunch and began to close in on the front group. He was assisted by the arrival of Stephen Gallagher (Ireland – Grant Thornton) and Andri Lebedev (Estonia – Kalev Chocolate), and when Julian Winn (Wales – Stena Line), David Robinson (US – TIAA CREF), Roger Morgan (Surrey Racing League), Stephen O’Sullivan (Meath – Cycleways.com) and John Mason (Tipperary Worldwide Cycles) came up to them, it further improved their chances.
At the 31 kilometre mark, the riders began the first category ascent of The Crag. Robinson was dropped soon afterwards from the chase, while Veermeulen was shed from the front group. Cassidy also slipped backwards, but was picked up by the fragmenting second group. He, Stephen Gallagher, Julian Winn and Stephen O’Sullivan then continued the chase, with Gallagher and Winn forging ahead on the Crag and getting across.
Healion was first across the top of the Crag, with Lovatt moving into the KOH lead by virtue of the twelve points he earned for second place. Urquhart, Partridge and Christiansen filled the main positions. After the summit, the nine leaders were being chased by five – Cassidy, O’Sullivan, Stian Remme (Norway – Sparebanken Vest), John Mason and Andrew Roche (both Tipperary – Worldwide Cycles).
Winn took maximum points on the category ascent of Granghill, leading Healion, Gallagher and Lovatt over the top. Once past the 50 kilometre board the bunch was a full minute and 28 seconds down, with the chasers 24 seconds off the front of the race. The junction was made shortly afterwards, making it fourteen up front.
Miller lost his place with the leaders when he punctured. He slipped back to the bunch, which was being led by GB – Recycling.co.uk and Tipperary Dan Morrissey, riding to protect Newton’s yellow jersey and the county team lead, respectively. This chase succeeded in reducing the lead to a manageable 1 minute and 20 seconds by the time the riders reached the bottom of The Butts (96.3 kilometres), the day’s second category one climb. Ireland – Grant Thornton rider Conor Murphy punctured on the steep hill and consequently lost his ninth place overall by the finish.
The break crumbled under the severity of the Butts. Winn led Remme, Gallagher, Roche, Urquhart and Healion over the summit while the other riders in the break were all dropped and caught. With Lovatt gone, Winn was on course to seize the King of the Hills jersey, and he was first to the top of the next climb, the second category Uskerty Hill. Gallagher, Healion, Urquhart, Roche and Remme were next.
Urquhart punctured out of the break shortly afterwards, losing all chance of a high placing and adding further misfortune to the puncture and crash he suffered yesterday. Meanwhile, behind, approximately 70 riders were left in the main bunch, including Newton and Elliott, the first two overall. This group eventually reeled in the front runners before the final climb of the day, Glenmagoo. Urban took full points here, while Moriarty salvaged something from his day by collecting eight points for second place. Christiansen, Newton and Elliott were next.
After the top, Norway – Sparebanken Vest have put the hammer down to try to break things up. Five riders went clear - Gabriel Rasch (Norway Sparebanken Vest), Evan Oliphant, Alex Coutts (both Scotland), Rob Sharman (GB – Recycling.co.uk) and John Tanner (Yorkshire – Trinity Capital). These were brought back, but at the 25 kilometres to go point four others had more luck. Miller, Krotky, Christiansen and Lovatt quickly opened a twelve second gap.
With about fifteen kilometres remaining stage one winner Roger Aiken (Louth Safe Cycling) attacked, bridging across to the breakaway group. This quintet was joined soon afterwards by Are Andresen, Simon Kelly (Cork Nucleus) and Denis Lynch (Cork Kanturk). With two kilometres to go the breakaway had a healthy eighteen seconds, and when they carried twelve of those into the final kilometre it was clear that they were going to make it to the finish. Sure enough, they got there five seconds ahead of the bunch, with Morten Christiansen benefiting from a leadout by team-mate Andresen to beat Kelly, Aiken, Lovatt, Millar, Krotky and Lynch.
Andresen was caught on the line by the speeding main field, but retained enough of his advantage to finish ahead of Eugene Moriarty (Meath – Cycleways.com), Newton, Barker and Elliott. The close finish meant that there was little change in the overall standings, bar Murphy’s inopportune puncture causing him to slip from ninth to 38th overall. Barry moves up from fifth to fourth by virtue of his better stage position, while fellow Irishmen Sean Lacey and John Dempsey are now 12th and 13th overall. Newton and Winn lead the points and mountains classifications.
‘I am very pleased with how things went today,’ said stage winner Morten Christiansen. ‘The team wanted to win something. I attacked early on in the stage and was clear over some of the climbs, but eventually went back to the bunch. I got away again though near the end and we stayed clear until the finish. My team-mate Are Andresen led out the sprint for me, and it worked out perfectly.’
‘The hope now is that the team can go for the overall. Morten Hegreberg is third, just over two minutes back. We have been trying to put pressure on the GB Recycling team…they certainly know our jerseys by now!’
Irish rider Simon Kelly was happy to take second. ‘My previous best finish was eighth, so today’s result is very good. I’ve ridden the Rás five times and this is the closest I have come to winning a stage. Myself and Denis Lynch got across to the break near the end. I started the sprint in third place. The winner came around me and was too quick for me to get by him again.’
Third-placed Roger Aiken was also satisfied. ‘I felt pretty good all day. I got across with Simon and Denis near the end, but I was a bit too far back in the sprint to do better. But I’m happy enough with that, and we got a few seconds on the field. That might move me up a place or two in the overall standings.’
Chris Newton finished five second behind the first five riders, but easily held on to his yellow jersey. ‘It was fine out there. I’ve taken two wins and second on a stage so far, so I am going quite well. I am having an interesting battle with Malcolm for the jersey. We’ll see how it turns out over the next few days.’
Elliott had previously expressed doubts about his climbing form, but did just fine today. ‘It worked out pretty well,’ he said. ‘I think Saturday is going to be the big showdown. I am feeling stronger each day, so that is encouraging.’
FBD Insurance Rás stage 5, Templemore – Abbeyleix:
1, Morten Christiansen (Norway – Sparebanken Vest) 143 kilometres in 3 hours 23 mins 13 secs
2, Simon Kelly (Cork Nucleus)
3, Roger Aiken (Louth – Safe Cycling)
4, Mark Lovatt (Yorkshire – Trinity Capital)
5, Kevin Miller (Canada – Jet Fuel Coffee) all same time
6, Rotislav Krotky (Czech Republic – Elmarco KK Cube) at 2 secs
7, Denis Lynch (Cork – Kanturk) same time
8, Are Andresen (Norway – Sparebanken Vest) at 5 secs
9, Eugene Moriarty (Meath Cycleways.com)
10, Chris Newton (GB – Recycling.co.uk)
11, Yanto Barker (Wales – Stena Line)
12, Malcolm Elliott (Yorkshire – Trinity Capital)
13, Sigvard Kukk (Estonia – Kalev Chocolate)
14, Morten Hegreberg (Norway – Sparebanken Vest)
15, Paídi O’Brien (Ireland – Grant Thornton) all same time
County rider (Cuchulainn Crystal): Simon Kelly
First Leinster rider: Philip Finegan (Dublin – Usher Insulations)
Cotter Hoose CI cat 2 rider:
1, Tom Greene (Kildare Ena Loakman Remax) 3 hours 28 mins 46 secs
2, Barry Meehan (Tipperary Worldwide Cycles)
3, Mark McLeavey (Dublin – Dundrum Shopping Centre) both same time
The Crag, category 1:
1, Paul Healion (Dublin Usher Insulation) 15 points
2, Mark Lovatt (Yorkshire – Trinity Capital) 12
3, Duncan Urquhart (Scotland) 10
4, Robert Partridge (Wales – Stena Line) 8
5, Morten Christiansen (Norway – Sparebanken Vest) 6
6, Jens Schwedler (Germany – Stevens Von Hacht) 5
7, Kevin Miller (Canada – Jet Fuel Coffee) 3
Grangehill, category 3:
1, Julian Winn (Wales – Stena Line) 5 pts
2, Paul Healion (Dublin – Usher Insulations) 4 pts
3, Stephen Gallagher (Ireland – Grant Thornton) 3 pts
4, Mark Lovatt (Yorkshire – Sparebanken Vest) 2 pts
The Butts, category 1:
1, Julian Winn (Wales Stena Line) 15 pts
2, Stian Remme (Norway – Sparebanken Vest) 12
3, Stephen Gallagher (Ireland – Grant Thornton) 10
4, Andrew Roche (Tipperary – Worldwide Cycles) 8
5, Duncan Urquhart (Scotland) 6
6, Paul Healion (Dublin – Usher Insulations) 5
7, Morten Hegreberg (Norway – Sparbanken Vest) 3
Uskerty Hill, category 2:
1, Julian Winn (Wales – Stena Line) 10 pts
2, Stephen Gallagher (Ireland – Grant Thornton) 8
3, Paul Healion (Dublin – Usher Insulations) 6
4, Duncan Urquhart (Scotland) 4
5, Andrew Roche (Tipperary – Worldwide Cycles) 3
6, Stian Remme (Norway – Sparebanken Vest) 1
Glenmagoo, category 2:
1, Malte Urban (Germany Stevens von Hacht) 10
2, Eugene Moriarty (Meath – Cycleways.com) 8
3, Morten Christiansen (Norway – Sparebanken Vest) 6
4, Chris Newton (GB – Recycling.co.uk) 4
5, Malcolm Elliott (Yorkshire – Trinity Capital) 3
6, Evan Oliphant (Scotland) 1
General Classification (George Plant trophy):
1, Chris Newton (GB – Recycling.co.uk) 18 hours 40 secs
2, Malcolm Elliott (Yorkshire – Trinity Capital) at 8 secs
3, Morten Hegreberg (Norway – Sparebanken Vest) at 2 mins 16 secs
4, Tim Barry (Tipperary Dan Morrissey) at 2 mins 32 secs
5, Robin Sharman (GB – Recycling.co.uk) 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, Stuart Gillespie (US – TIAA CREF) at 5 mins 11 secs
10, John Tanner (Yorkshire – Trinity Capital) at 5 mins 29 secs
11, Evan Oliphant (Scotland) at 6 mins 1 sec
12, Sean Lacey (Meath M. Donnelly) at 6 mins 15 secs
13, John Dempsey (Ireland – Grant Thornton) same time
14, Sigvard Kukk (Estonia – Kalev Chocolate) at 6 mins 22 secs
15, Morgen Christiansen (Norway – Sparebanken Vest) at 6 mins 38 secs
1, Chris Newton, 62 points
2, Elliott, 57
3, Hegreberg, 42
4, Barker, 34
4, Aiken, 28
Mountains classification (Brendan Carroll trophy):
1, Julian Winn (Wales Stena Line) 35
2, Eugene Moriarty, 31
3, Lovatt, 31
4, Gallagher, 31
5, Healion, 30
Under 23 classification (Ben McKenna Trophy):
1, Stuart Gillespie (US – TIAA CREF) 18 hours 5 mins 51 secs
2, Alex Coutts (Scotland) at 3 mins
3, Ian MacGregor (US – TIAA CREF) at 4 mins 29 secs
4, Paídi O’Brien (Ireland – Grant Thornton) at 4 mins 56 secs
5, Mark Cassidy (Meath – Cycleways.com) at 5 mins 13 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, Andrew Roche (Tipperary – Worldwide Cycles) at 4 mins 11 secs
5, Eugene Moriarty, at 4 mins 12 secs
6, Roger Aiken, at 5 mins 48 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, Tom Greene (Kildare Ena Loakman Remax) at 13 mins 4 secs
4, Stephen Enright (Dublin – Usher Insulations) at 22 mins 23 secs
5, Cormac O’Shea (Kildare Ena Loakman Remax) at 24 mins 20 secs
International team overall:
1, Yorkshire – Trinity Capital, 54 hours 10 mins 38 secs
2, Norway – Sparebanken Vest, at 3 mins 4 secs
3, GB – Recycling.co.uk, at 9 mins 3 secs
4, Ireland – Grant Thornton, at 11 mins 37 secs
5, Wales – Stena Line, at 14 mins 23 secs
County team overall:
1, Meath Cycleways.com, 54 hours 25 mins 32 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 25 secs