Former World Cup omnium winner, Shane Archbold (An Post Chain Reaction Sean Kelly), sprinted to a narrow victory at today’s second stage of the 2013 An Post Rás.
The Kiwi rider led the sprint coming into the final stretch and marginally edged out the challenge of Marcin Bialoblocki (Britain UK Youth Pro), Jasper de Buyst (Belgium National Team) and Belfast born Peter Hawkins (Britain IG Sigma Sport), who finished in second, third and fourth respectively.
Hawkins’ fourth place finish was enough to earn him the yellow jersey, taking it over from yesterday’s stage winner Conor Dunne.
It was an overcast day as the riders departed Longford but the rain held off and with a slight tailwind, in addition to the fact that the stage featured no categorised climbs, a very quick stage was once again on the cards.
A breakaway of twelve, including Irish riders Sam Bennett, Ronan McLaughlin (An Post Chain Reaction Sean Kelly) and Aaron Buggle (Britain Rapha Condor JLT) launched the first attack of the day. Several groups tried to bridge the gap, but they were unsuccessful as the dozen leaders built up a gap of one minute over the peloton.
After 56 kilometres, the breakaway group was eventually caught. More attacks followed but all were quickly reeled in by the bunch. A group of fourteen riders then went clear, le d initially by Remi Pelletier (Canada National Team), Tomas Okrouhlicky (Czech Republic AC Sparta Praha) and Rodger Aiken (Louth Prague Charter). They were pursued by a small group of five riders, which quickly swelled into a chasing bunch of over twenty.
Passing through Portumna, with 38 kilometres to go, the lead and chasing groups merged, forming a front bunch of over 40 riders including yellow jersey leader, Dunne. Archbold attacked from the chasing group, breaking away along with Samuel Harrison (Great Britain National Team), Rasmus Guldhammer (Denmark Blue Water Cycling) and Lars Vierbergen (Holland Koga Cycling).
Seven more riders, including Irish rider Connor McConvey (Azerbaijan Synergy Baku), joined the leading quartet and with five kilometres to go to finish, it came down to a sprint with Archbold proving quickest in the dash to the line.
Archbold was clearly ecstatic with the victory and paid tribute to the work of his team.
“I’m thrilled with the win. I was injured at the start of the year and haven’t had too much racing with the way the injury fell but my form has come good. I spent the last three weeks in Holland getting into good shape so it seems to have paid off.
It was a great team effort today. We missed the vital breakaway yesterday so we were disappointed about that and made sure we had two riders in every breakaway today. Thankfully it worked and we’ll just keep on focusing on stage wins for the rest of the week”, Archbold added.
Fraser Duncan (Dublin West Eurocycles) claimed the stage two county rider jersey with De Buyst holding title to the Under 23 jersey.