Saturday 24 September 2016

‘Quackser’ goes to Skerries as Fankhauser wins Ras

Gerard Cromwell

Published 30/05/2016 | 02:31

An Post Rás winner Clemens Fankhauser of Austria. Photo: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy
An Post Rás winner Clemens Fankhauser of Austria. Photo: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

For the past four days, ever since Austrian rider Clemens Fankhauser took over the yellow jersey of An Post Ras leader, he has been accompanied on to the podium by a pyjama-wearing stuffed duck with a cannula in his wing.

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‘Quackser’ is the toy duck given to children undergoing chemotherapy by Irish charity Aoibheann’s Pink Tie, and yesterday Skerries was added to the list of spots he has been photographed on podiums around the world as Fankhauser finished safely in the bunch at the end of the final stage to win his second Ras in three years.

“Two years ago when I won the Ras, we got wristbands from Aibheann’s Pink Tie charity and I wore them every day,” explained the affable Austrian winner afterwards.

“Since then we remained in contact and last year they gave me the duck, which is a companion toy they give to children who have leukaemia, to help them through the treatment, like a friend. For us, it’s just a little sign to appreciate their work and I hope they can gain some attention from it.”

Fankhauser wasn’t short of attention himself, the 2014 winner having become only the fifth person in history to have won the race twice, despite numerous attacks on his yellow jersey over the weekend.

“It was a tough eight days,” he admitted.

“I had a bad crash on the first stage and last week I thought I wasn’t going to survive this race. But my team-mates worked hard for me and today we controlled it quite well. We had just three guys within a minute behind me, so it was a bit easier compared to the last few days. I’m really happy to get here to Skerries in yellow and win it again.”

Danish sprinter Nicolai Brochner (Riwal Platform) took his second stage win of the Ras in Skerries yesterday, outsprinting former race leader Dutchman Taco van der Hoorn (Join-S De Rijke) and the An Post Chain Reaction duo of Emiel Wastyn and Aaron Gate.

The latter took home the points jersey as most consistent stage finisher over the eight-day race while Niko Holler of German squad Bike Aid took the King of the Mountains classification.

In the race for yellow though, Fankhauser held on by a mere three seconds from Aussie Jai Hindley, who also won the U23 classification, with his team-mate, Lucas Hamilton, third at 13 seconds.

Eddie Dunbar of Team Ireland was best of the Irish in fourth overall, two seconds further back and the Cork youngster can be happy with a stage win on his Ras debut.

In an impressive Ras for the county riders, Eoin Morton also took a stage win for Dublin UCD while team-mate Ian Richardson won the award for best placed county rider, finishing 23rd.

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