The first big mountain stage of this year's FBD Insurance Rás saw German John Degenkolb (Thuringer Energie) outsprint former race leader Dan Craven of the British Rapha Condor team for stage victory as the two of them finished clear of a large chase group into Gorey.
Degenkolb took the second stage victory of this year's Rás for his German Thuringer Energie team and moved into the green jersey of points leader yesterday, while Craven clawed back some time in his attempt to win this race outright.
"Right at the bottom of the last climb myself and John got clear and by the time we got to the top, we already had a big gap," said Craven. "We kind of looked at each other.
"We didn't even have to say anything, we just drilled it from there. Man that boy can ride! He wanted a stage and I wanted the overall classification, so basically we rode as hard as we could to the finish.
"The commissaire came up and told us we had 30 seconds, 35, 40, 45 and it just motivated us to work even harder." At the line, the duo had 50 seconds to spare over third-placed Kiwi Shane Archibold, who led in a 56-man chasing group.
Degenkolb's stage win in Gorey, his third victory of the season, sees him go into today's penultimate stage with a two-point lead in the green jersey competition. "This is the second stage win for the team and we are really happy with the race so far," he said.
The day's proceedings were sparked into life by an attack by An Post's David O'Loughlin, who went clear alongside defending Rás champion British pro Simon Richardson (Rapah Condor) and Swede Frederik Johansson of Team Sprocket. O'Loughlin put in another storming performance -- scooping another mountains points -- and by the summit of the ultra steep Corrabutt Gap, he had dropped his breakaway companions.
"I was trying to go for a stage win and we were trying to see if we could move some of the lads, like Connor (McConvey), up on GC," said O'Loughlin. "It didn't work out towards the end but I got some more mountain points and I held on to the jersey for another day."