Irish starlet Teggart thrilled to claim yellow as Donegal hills take heavy toll
The hills of Donegal had a major impact on the An Post Rás yesterday as overnight leader Dennis Bakker lost over five minutes and his yellow jersey to Irish starlet Matthew Teggart as Aussie Michael Storer soloed to a fine stage victory in Buncrana.
Although a seven-man break including Monday's stage winner Jan Willem Van Schip, Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (An Post Chain Reaction) and Waterford's Marc Flavin, riding for Down, went clear early on and had built up a lead of two and a half minutes with 50km remaining in the 150km stage, Bakker and his Delta Cycling Rotterdam team were chasing hard.
By the time the race hit the slopes of the penultimate climb of Pinch Mountain 25km later, Kasperkiewicz was the only one to remain out front but had now been joined by Storer - riding for the Aussie national team - and American Jake Sitler on the climb.
This trio were two minutes clear of the nearest chasers at the foot of Mamore Gap, with yellow jersey Bakker struggling a further 45 seconds back.
Dropping the other two on the steep switchbacks, Storer went for glory from a long way out and managed to hold off the rest of the field for an impressive victory.
Sitler hung on for second a minute and 26 seconds back while, three seconds later, Frenchman Morgan Kneisky led home Teggart (21), the winner of the third stage, and the rest of a 21-strong group.
Banbridge-born Teggart's fourth place was enough to give him the yellow jersey, although it was only decided on stage placings, with five other riders - including An Post's Damien Shaw - are all on the same time overall.
"After yesterday I didn't think I could top that," said Teggart. "To be in yellow today is an absolute dream come true. As an Irishman, taking yellow is an honour.
"We just have to try my best to hold onto it now!"
"I knew it could be decided on stage placings, so I had to be well up there at the end. The guys worked really well and led me out again and I got fourth, good enough to get yellow.
"I haven't looked at the profile of the next few days so we'll take it day by day. I'll let Kurt (Bogaerts, team manager) worry about all that."
Storer added: "I went hard up the last few climbs to try and get away. I did my best to get a lot of time. I was surprised I could get away in those last few climbs, especially Mamore Gap which was tough - it's a solid climb!"