Monday 19 February 2018

Gullen's travails earn him Ras glory as Kasperkiewicz takes stage

James Gullen. Photo: Ryan Byrne/INPHO
James Gullen. Photo: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Gerard Cromwell

James Gullen of JLT Condor took overall victory in the An Post Ras yesterday as Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz gave the An Post Chain Reaction team their third stage win of the race.

Having come into the eight-stage Ras as support rider for team-mate Ian Bibby, British pro Gullen took over the race lead on stage five and with a minute and five seconds advantage over nearest rival Ike Groen of Delta Cycling Rotterdam starting yesterday, retained all of that lead by the finish in Skerries.

"I'm so happy to have pulled it off after all the work the lads did for me and the stress of the last eight days," said the 27-year-old.

"I loved the Ras when I first did it in 2012 and wanted to come back but I didn't get to come back for four years because I either didn't get picked or my team didn't do it.

"When I came back last year, I got a stage win and ninth overall, so I wanted to improve on that this year, but we've such a strong team that I came here as support for Ian.

"When I got into the break with Ed (Laverack) on Thursday and had a chance of going into yellow though, I had to rise to the challenge and it worked out well."

Yesterday's stage was decided by a five-man sprint that finished 23 seconds clear of the peloton, with 22-year-old Pole Kasperkiewicz adding to his King of the Mountains title by leading home Samuel Jenner (Australia) Jerome Mainard (France Armée de Terre), county rider Mark Dowling (Cork Strata3 / VeloRevolution) and Aussie Michael Storer.

Gullen finished comfortably clear of Groen to take overall honours, with former WorldTour pro Cameron Meyer of Australia third at 2.35. Damien Shaw of An Post Chain Reaction was best of the Irish in fifth overall at 4.43.

Michael O'Loughlin from Carrick-On-Suir took the U-23 classification in ninth overall, while Dutchman Dan Meijers took the points.

Daire Feeley of Galway iTap was best county rider in 12th place while Cork's Strata3 VeloRevolution squad took the county team award.

Irish Independent

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