Van der Hoorn strikes Dutch gold in Rás opener
On a blustery opening day at this year's Rás, which saw the peloton lashed by rain and pelted by hailstones, Dutchman Taco van der Hoorn stormed clear of a 13-strong breakaway group in the final 3km of racing to win yesterday's opening stage in Multyfarnham.
After a very aggressive start to the eight-day race, the first big move of the day went shortly after Eoin Morton of Dublin UCD took the only king of the mountains points on offer at Lough Crew after 87km.
Morton went clear with British pro George Fowler (NFTO) and compatriots Bryan McCrystal (Louth Asea), Ronan McLaughlin (Team Ireland) and Sean Lacey (Cork Aquablue) initially but this quartet were then joined by Austrian Patrick Gamper and Marcus Christie of Louth.
Their maximum lead of 50 seconds on the outskirts of Castlepollard after 108km though, wasn't enough to see them contest the finish between them.
Instead they were reeled in with 25km remaining when a new group of 13 formed at the front.
It was from this baker's dozen that Van der Hoorn attacked on a drag with 3km to go - the flatlander taking the opening stage victory and donning the first yellow jersey of this year's Rás.
"It was a hard stage and wasn't really controlled all day," said the Dutchman afterwards.
"In the end I managed to get away in a small group and with 13 guys we opened a big gap, so it was a bit easier to make the final move. There was a hill with maybe three kilometres to go and I attacked there and was able to hold them off to the finish."
Jack Wilson (An Post Chain Reaction) was best placed of the Irish on the stage, finishing fifth, with Eddie Dunbar (pictured above) of the Irish national team in ninth, while former pro Ciaran Power took 16th on the stage and the county rider award for Waterford Comeragh.
Although he ended up in the ditch after a crash with 10km to go, Dubliner Morton was able to roll to the line and earned the king of the mountains title for his earlier efforts.
"I had targeted this jersey this morning so I'm thrilled to have my hands on it now. Myself and a couple of county riders got clear but I thought we were going to get caught before the climb.
I'll try and defend it tomorrow but the professional riders are that little bit skinnier than me so it's going to be a big ask to keep hold of it on the steep first-category climbs."