Pirmin Lang of the Switzerland Atlas Jakroo team was first past the finish line at today’s stage two of the 2012 Rás. The Swiss rider sprinted to victory at the end of the second longest stage of the gruelling eight day event which saw the riders cover a 157 kilometre route from Kilkenny to Gort.
Lang pipped the victory ahead of a group of seven chasing riders which saw British duo Dale Appleby (Britain East Midlands Metaltek) and James Moss (Britain Node4 Giordan) take second and third place respectively. The time gap was enough to ensure they made up the first three names in the general classification as well.
Christian Jerslid Jensen (Denmark Blue Water Cycling), Dan Craven (Britain Team IG – Sigma Sport), Richard Handley (Britain Rapha Condor Sharp) and Connor McConvey (An Post Sean Kelly) made up the remainder of riders in the final sprint at the finish. The group finished 28 seconds ahead of the next riders home, Waterford native Sam Bennett and reigning Rás champion Gediminas Bagdonas, both of the An Post Sean Kelly Team.
Sunny conditions in Kilkenny this morning indicated that today’s stage would make for aggressive riding and that certainly was the case as the riders covered 48 kilometres in the first hour of riding. Irishman Martyn Irvine (Taiwan RTS Racing) was in determined mood, attacking twice early on and took an eight second lead before being reeled in by the bunch.
Going into Thurles a group of eight riders lead by Connor McConvey broke free, opening up a gap of almost three minutes from the peloton. Despite the break beginning to show cracks on the category three climb of Ogonnelle, which was taken by Richard Handley after a close fought battle with Dan Craven, the riders were pushed along by a strong tailwind which made for a very fast final hour of racing.
Three more gruelling climbs ensued with Craven emerging victorious on the final one at Killanena and ensuring he claimed the ‘King of the Mountains’ jersey. It was a pivotal and testing time for the break but they raised their game and were not to be caught despite some hard riding from David McCann (RTS Racing) at the front of the peloton. As the finish drew closer it was Lang who had most left in the tank and he was delighted to take the yellow jersey.
“I hoped that the breakaway would come through. It worked out. My legs were spinning well and I hoped for a good sprint”.
Although the bunch was chasing hard, he said that he believed that his group had a chance if they continued to work well. “With three kilometres to go we got the wind from behind and I knew that we could do it”, Lang added.