Thursday 22 February 2018

Fankhauserleads home breakaway to turn Ras on its head

The breakaway group rides along Caha Pass in Co Kerry during stage five of the An Post Rás. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
The breakaway group rides along Caha Pass in Co Kerry during stage five of the An Post Rás. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Gerard Cromwell

On a stage reminiscent of the days before professional teams were allowed to ride, the Ras was turned on its head when an 11-man breakaway group finished almost seven minutes clear in Clonakilty, promoting Austrian rider Clemens Fankhauser into the yellow jersey and the rest of the group into the next 10 places overall.

With overnight leader Patrick Bevin having lost two of his New Zealand national team-mates to sickness in recent days, the 23-year-old finally lost his grip on the race shortly after pulling back an original escape group heading towards Glengarrif following 95km of the 168km stage.

With Fankhauser having begun the day just a minute and 55 seconds down on Bevin, in second place overall, the Austrian became race leader on the road when the gap grew to over two minutes outside Ballylickey and then increased to a maximum of eight minutes before the end of the stage.


Also in the move was sixth-placed leading U-23 rider Alex Peters of Madison Genesis and six more riders in the top 20 overall, including his team-mate Ian Bibby, Canadian Nic Hamilton, Pete Williams of France Velotec, Christoph Schweizer of Synergy Baku, defending Ras champion Marcin Bialoblocki (Velosure Giordana) and the lone Irishman in the move, Sean Downey of An Post Chain Reaction, who had begun the day two minutes and 53 seconds down in 19th place.

In the uphill sprint into Clonakilty, Polish pro Bialoblocki outsprinted Bibby and Pete Williams for the stage victory, but the escape group's huge winning margin ensured a surprised Fankhauser was the real winner on the day and would don the yellow jersey afterwards.

"I never expected to be in yellow," said the delighted Austrian afterwards. "Patrick (Bevin) was so strong that I thought the race for first place was over on the second day. Even though it was aggressive, the last few days I didn't think that even with 11 riders we'd somehow open such a big gap."

Peters finished ninth on the stage to move into second place overall, the British youngster just 11 seconds behind the new race leader, with Bibby third at 29 seconds.

Banbridge man Downey also moved into the top 10 and is currently 58 seconds back in eighth place and is expecting more changes tomorrow on the short, but steep finishing climb to Seskin Hill in Carrick-On-Suir.

Deposed race leader Bevin had some consolation when he donned the green jersey of points leader afterwards, while Alessandro Pettiti of the Italian IDEA outfit retained the King of the Mountains jersey.

Sean Lacey is best county rider overall and his Cork City Aquablue squad lead the county team classification.

Irish Independent

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