Francesco Reda rode to a superb opening stage victory on today's An Post Rás, narrowly edging out Lukas Postlberger (Austria Tirol Cycling Team) in a sprint to the line to claim the first yellow jersey of the UCI ranked eight day race.
The Italian Team IDEA rider and Postleberger attacked the lead break of 15 riders with 30 kilometres to go, staying away to cross the line in Carlow 55 seconds clear of the chasing group, which included Ireland's former World Scratch Race Champion Martyn Irvine (Madison Genesis).
Yesterday's opening stage was set up to ensure a fast, aggressive opener and it took just 20 kilometres in to the race for the day's key breakaway to form. A strong group of 15 riders went clear entering Sallins, which included Reda, Postlberger, Irvine, Ryan Mullen and Joshua Edmondson (An Post Chain Reaction) and UCD's Ian Richardson.
The breakaway group were setting a fast pace despite testing winds and it was Irish National Road Race Champion, Mullen, who took the opening third category climb at Sherlockstown.
Mullen was at the head of the breakaway as they began to extend their lead out front to two minutes twenty seconds. Several chasing groups unsuccessfully tried to bridge the gap and with 30 kilometres to go, Reda and Postlberger attacked alone.
The duo worked together to forge a minutes lead over the chasing pack of 13 riders but it was Reda who accelerated away in the final few hundred metres to claim a triumphant victory.
"I knew it would be a very tough stage and it's always hard to predict what will happen but I was confident in my legs as I have trained very hard for this so I am very happy," said a delighted Reda.