2003 champion Chris Newton moved an important step closer to victory in this year’s FBD Insurance Rás when he triumphed on today’s 160 kilometre leg from Abbeyleix to Rathdrum. In addition to taking his third stage win of the race, the GB – Recycling.co.uk rider scored a valuable psychological victory over his opponents in advance of tomorrow’s crucial mountain stage in the Wicklow mountains.
Newton’s win came as the result of a devastating surge out of the peloton inside the final 700 metres of the race, the race leader surging clear on the steep uphill rise to the line and eking out a five second advantage over the next rider.
Second was Norway – Sparebanken Vest rider Morten Hegreberg, with Nathan Mitchell (US TIAA CREF), Irish rider Eugene Moriarty (Meath – Cycleways.com) and Yanto Barker (Wales – Stena Line) all finishing in the same time.
Newton’s closest rival Malcolm Elliott (Yorkshire – Trinity Capital) finished a further second back in sixth, slipping to fourteen seconds behind in the overall standings. Hegreberg remains third, while Barker overtook the leading Irishman Tim Barry (Tipperary – Dan Morrissey) to move to fourth overall.
Today’s leg saw nine riders clear for most of the race, with three of these – Tommy Evans (Yorkshire – Trinity Capital), Evan Oliphant (Wales – Stena Line) and Chris Belsham (East England Angliasport) surging ahead near the end. The peloton eventually reeled these in, with Evans the last to succumb with four kilometres remaining. It was his second time this week being caught inside the final few kilometres, today’s finale being a near replay of his recapture on Wednesday’s fourth stage
How it happened:
The 165 riders left in the race had (on paper at least) a slight respite today as there were no categorised climbs along the 160 kilometres from Abbeyleix to Rathdrum. There was however plenty of motivation for strong riders to attack, with things so close overall between Newton and Elliott, and six other riders within 3 minutes of the yellow jersey. The stage honours would also act as a good spur for aggressive riders.
Two victims of the day one crash abandoned soon after the start. Morgan Fox (Dublin – Team Murphy and Gunn) and Cian Crowley (Wicklow South) were carrying injuries all week and finally ground to a halt.
After fifteen minutes of racing, Zach Bell (Canada – Jet Fuel Coffee), Evan Oliphant (Scotland), Tommy Evans (Yorkshire – Trinity Capital) and Eugene Moriarty (Meath – Cycleways.com) attacked. The quartet opened up a fifteen second gap over the main field but, despite the reinforcement provided by Morten Christiansen (Norway – Sparebanken Vest), who won yesterday, and David Robinson (US – TIAA CREF) they were caught by the 23 kilometre point.
A six man group went away shortly afterwards. Mark Pozniak (Canada – Jet Fuel Coffee), Stian Remme (Norway – Sparebanken Vest), Alex Coutts (Scotland), John Tanner, Tommy Evans (both Yorkshire – Trinity Capital) and Philip Cassidy (Meath – Cycleways.com) opened a small gap, but were quickly reeled in. Conor Murphy (Ireland – Grant Thornton) then tried but he too was hauled back, as was a six-man move containing Andri Lebedev (Estonia – Kalev Chocolate), Duncan Urquhart, Evan Oliphant (both Scotland), Ian Paine (Dublin Excel Ravens), Roger Aiken (Louth – Safe Cycling) and Eugene Moriarty (Meath – Cycleways.com)
Approximately 55 kilometres into the stage nine riders made their own attempt to break the elastic and, with no serious threat to the overall leader, were able to build a decent lead. The nine were Brian Keane (Ireland – Grant Thornton), Kristian House (Britain – Fujibikes.com), Duncan Urquhart, Evan Oliphant (both Scotland), Stuart Gillespie (US – TIAA CREF), Kenny Williams (US – Ventilux First Mortgage), Tommy Evans (Yorkshire – Trinity Capital), Chris Belsham (East England Angliasport) and Eddie O’Donoghue (Dublin – Team Murphy and Gunn).
The group had 59 seconds going through Bunclody (63.8 kilometres) and, following a big stall in the bunch, this lead jumped up to 2 minutes and 2 seconds shortly afterwards.
Bizarrely, the Norway – Sparebanken Vest team of third placed rider Morten Hegreberg decided to start riding, thus letting Newton’s weakening GB Recycling.co.uk team off the hook. Although it seemed more logical to force his team to chase, then attack them near the end or on tomorrow’s mountain stage, the Norwegians seemed to opt instead for trying for the stage win and protecting their third place overall.
Several other teams came to the front and also started riding through, including North East England and Dublin Usher Insulations. Again, these had no obligation to ride. Newton was happy, though, and sat back in the bunch keeping out of the headwind.
With the effort behind, the break’s advantage fell to 1 minute 37 seconds. However, after 95 kilometres of racing this had pulled out again to two minutes as they headed for Gorey and a big, enthusiastic crowd. It later transpired that the business granted time off work to cheer the riders through included the local courthouse, with proceedings being adjourned until after the break and peloton screamed by.
With 67 kilometres remaining their advantage had fallen to one minute and 31 seconds. Several riders tried to surge clear of the main bunch, including Eugene Moriarty, Ian Paine (Dublin Exel Ravens) and Denis Lynch (Cork – Kanturk CU) but these were all brought back. The injection of pace saw the break’s lead drop to 51 seconds, after which Tommy Evans – who had been sitting on under team orders – started to drill things at the front. That had the effect of pulling the lead back up once more.
Bill Moore (Meath – M. Donnelly), Paul Healion (Dublin - Usher Insulations) and Philip Cassidy (Meath – Cycleways.com) were amongst the many riders who tried solo moves but, with the Norway – Sparebanken Vest team continuing to give Newton an armchair ride, each of these efforts were shortlived.
Up front, the break was looking increasingly ragged, with riders missing turns and no organised work being done. With about 30 kilometres remaining Tommy Evans decided that the break as it was could not work, so he forged clear with Evan Oliphant (Wales – Stena Line) and Chris Belsham (East England Angliasport). With 20 kilometres to go the trio had 34 seconds; after that, they pulled their advantage out to 45 seconds but, by the ten kilometre to go sign, were back down to 34 seconds.
The lead began to drop quickly after this. Evans attacked the break with about six kilometres remaining but had just fifteen seconds buffer at that point. He did what he could to stay clear, but was finally caught with four kilometres left. The peloton tore down the two hairpin bends into Rathdrum and raced onto the final climb where, exploding out of the bunch, Newton put five seconds into the next riders in just 700 metres.
It was an excellent display of power and one which will demoralise his opponents before tomorrow’s stage. Buoyed by the result, Newton was sounding confident after the finish.
‘I am looking forward to tomorrow,’ he said. ‘With the climbs it will be a level playing field, it will simply be down to strength and so the best guys should come out on top. It is good that the climbs come early on because I won’t have to depend on my team-mates as much. I should be able to control things.’
‘The team rode well today. Some of the younger guys are starting to get tired but myself and Paul (Manning) were able to give them advice. Paul is going really well, it is a shame that he crashed on the first day and lost that time because he would be right up there in the general classification as well. In fact, I think he is probably stronger than me.’
‘The finish worked out perfectly. The Norwegian team were leading it out, some guy let the wheel go ahead of me inside the last kilometre. I decided to go for it and jumped hard. I wanted to get time out of Malcolm and the other riders, so that was more important than the stage result.’
‘I’m going well, I hope my form keeps building. I’d like to do well in the national championships and the Tour of Britain and, of course, win this race. I am starting to find my road legs again after all the track I have been doing. My plan is to ride tomorrow like a single day race, if I do it like that then it should work out well.’
First Irishman today was Eugene Moriarty, who recovered from a mishap in the closing stages to place fourth. ‘Inside the last couple of kilometres there was a stretch of water to the side of the road…I ended up getting bumped out into it, and thought I was dead. I kept it upright but had to make up a load of places because of the delay. I went hell for leather to try to get back up to the front, going by about 25 guys on the S bends on that descent. There was a split on the hill but I got onto the back of it in time. However, I’d used up so much energy to try to get back up to the front that I didn’t have a huge amount left.’
‘I don’t think I would have been near Newton, but think that second on the stage would have been possible.’
Moriarty launched several attacks today, even though tomorrow is a crucial stage for his King of the Mountains aspirations. He will go into the stage second in that ranking, four points behind Julian Winn. ‘I don’t think attacking today matters too much,’ he said, when asked if he had wasted important energy. ‘At this stage of the week, you are either recovering well or you are not. I am looking forward to tomorrow, I will give it a real go.’
The FBD Insurance Rás continues tomorrow with the penultimate stage, a 139 kilometre race starting in Rathdrum and concluding in Wicklow Town. The route takes the riders over seven categorised climbs, including the three first cat ascents of Slieveman (14.8 km), Sally Gap (106.5 km) and Lugalla (112.4 km).
FBD Insurance Rás stage 6, Abbeyleix - Rathdrum:
1, Chris Newton (GB – Recycling.co.uk) 160 kilometres in 4 hours 1 min 9 secs
2, Morten Hegreberg (Norway – Sparebanken Vest) at 5 secs
3, Nathan Mitchell (US – TIAA CREF)
4, Eugene Mortiarty (Meath – Cycleways.com)
5, Yanto Barker (Wales – Stena Line)
6, Malcolm Elliott (Yorkshire – Trinity Capital) at 6 secs
7, John Tanner (Yorkshire – Trinity Capital) at 11 secs
8, Tim Barry (Tipperary – Dana Morrissey)
9, Robin Sharman (GB – Recycling.co.uk)
10, Stephen Gallagher (Ireland – Grant Thornton) all same time
11, Rostislav Krotky (Czech Republic – Elmarco KK Cube) at 13 secs
12, Julian Winn (Wales – Stena Line)
13, Sigvard Kukk (Estonia – Kalev Chocolate)
14, Tino Haakman (Netherlands – Kennemerland) all same time
15, Gary Dodd (Surrey Racing League) at 16 secs
County rider (Cuchulainn Crystal): Moriarty
Cotter Hoose CI cat 2 rider:
1, Barry Meehan (Tipperary Worldwide Cycles) 4 hours 1 min 44 secs
2, Ciaran Farrell (Dublin Wheelers All Systems) same time
3, Stephen Enright (Dublin – Usher Insulations) at 11 secs
General Classification (George Plant trophy):
1, Chris Newton (GB – Recycling.co.uk) 22 hours 1 min 49 secs
2, Malcolm Elliott (Yorkshire – Trinity Capital) at 14 secs
3, Morten Hegreberg (Norway – Sparebanken Vest) at 2 mins 21 secs
4, Yanto Barker (Wales Stena Line) at 2 mins 42 secs
5, Tim Barry (Tipperary Dan Morrissey) at 2 mins 43 secs
6, Robin Sharman (GB – Recycling.co.uk) same time
7, Gabriel Rasch (Norway – Sparebanken Vest) at 2 mins 59 secs
8, Kevin Dawson (Yorkshire – Trinity Capital) at 3 mins 33 secs
9, Stuart Gillespie (US – TIAA CREF) at 5 mins 33 secs
10, John Tanner (Yorkshire – Trinity Capital) at 5 mins 40 secs
11, Sigvard Kukk (Estonia – Kalev Chocolate) at 6 mins 35 secs
12, Sean Lacey (Meath - M. Donnelly) at 6 mins 37 secs
13, Eugene Moriarty (Meath - Cycleways.com) at 6 mins 49 secs
14, Evan Oliphant (Scotland) at 6 mins 51 secs
15, Rostislav Krotky (Czech Republic – Elmarco KK Cube) at 6 mins 53 secs
1, Chris Newton, 77 points
2, Elliott, 67
3, Hegreberg, 56
4, Barker, 45
5, Tanner, 34
Mountains classification (Brendan Carroll trophy):
1, Julian Winn (Wales Stena Line) 35
2, Eugene Moriarty, 31
3, Mark Lovatt (Yorkshire – Trinity Capital), 31
4, Gallagher, 31
5, Paul Healion (Dublin – Usher Insulation) 30
Under 23 classification (Ben McKenna Trophy):
1, Stuart Gillespie (US – TIAA CREF) 22 hours 7 mins 22 secs
2, Alex Coutts (Scotland) at 3 mins
3, Ian MacGregor (US – TIAA CREF) at 4 mins 29 secs
4, Mark Cassidy (Meath – Cycleways.com) at 5 mins 13 secs
5, Paídi O’Brien (Ireland – Grant Thornton) at 5 mins 24 secs
County rider overall (Cycleways):
1, Tim Barry, 22 hours 4 mins 32 secs
2, Sean Lacey (Meath – M. Donnelly) at 3 mins 54 secs
3, Eugene Moriarty, at 4 mins 6 secs
4, Andrew Roche (Tipperary – Worldwide Cycles) at 4 mins 16 secs
5, Roger Aiken, at 5 mins 57 secs
Second category rider:
1, Barry Meehan (Tipperary Worldwide Cycles) 22 hours 20 mins 43 secs
2, Mark McLeavey (Dublin Dundrum Shopping Centre) at 9 secs
3, Tom Greene (Kildare Ena Loakman Remax) at 13 mins 34 secs
4, Stephen Enright (Dublin – Usher Insulations) at 22 mins 28 secs
5, Cormac O’Shea (Kildare Ena Loakman Remax) at 36 mins 25 secs
International team overall:
1, Yorkshire – Trinity Capital, 66 hours 14 mins 51 secs
2, Norway – Sparebanken Vest, at 3 mins 1 secs
3, GB – Recycling.co.uk, at 10 mins 18 secs
4, Ireland – Grant Thornton, at 12 mins 34 secs
5, Wales – Stena Line, at 14 mins 37 secs
County team overall:
1, Meath Cycleways.com, 66 hours 35 mins 44 secs
2, Tipperary Dan Morrissey, at 1 min 35 secs
3, Meath M. Donnelly, at 4 mins 10 secs
4, Tipperary Worldwide Cycles, at 7 mins
5, Cork Nucleus, at 7 mins 48 secs