Postlberger seals win despite having a few screws loose
Despite a crash on Saturday's penultimate stage loosening a few screws in a previously broken collarbone and having his spare bike and other team kit stolen from the team hotel overnight, Austrian Lukas Postlberger of Tirol Cycling held on to take overall victory at the An Post Ras at the end of yesterday's final stage into Skerries.
The young Austrian ended the eight-day race with a one minute and five seconds lead over nearest challenger Josh Edmondson of An Post Chain Reaction.
"I thought my collarbone was broken again," admitted Postlberger of Saturday's crash. "I've got a plate and seven screws in it and I think one or two of them came out so I have to have it checked when I go home.
"I wasn't confident when I got the yellow jersey first. There were six days to go and it's a really hard race. It's the biggest stage race win of my career and hopefully it will help me move up to a bigger professional team."
After finishing second on the two previous stages, Louth Asea's Damien Shaw took to the podium again yesterday, this time after a blistering ride saw him spend the last lap and a half of the finishing circuit trying to bridge across to leaders Aidis Kruopis (An Post Chain Reaction) and Davide Vigano (Team IDEA Conad) to take third on the stage.
Shaw attacked upon making contact with the former WorldTour duo in the final kilometre, but was caught and outgunned in the final sprint as Kruopis took his second stage win of the week.
"I just put my head down and never stopped believing I could get up to them," said Shaw afterwards. "I saw the bunch coming behind and thought I'd take my chances leading it out. I wouldn't normally win a sprint in a Sunday race, so I knew I wasn't going to win one against a couple of WorldTour riders."
Shaw's third place in Skerries followed second place in both Drogheda and Ballinamore the previous two days and his performance has been one of the best in the race by an amateur in recent years. "I'd swap the three podiums for one win," he admitted though. "One win would have been remembered more than three placings."
Kruopis not only took the stage win but also gained enough points on the last three climbs of the Blackhills to win the mountains classification.
It's been a good Ras for An Post Chain Reaction with Aaron Gate winning the points jersey, Josh Edmondson taking second overall and Irish national champion Ryan Mullen winning the white jersey for leading Under 23 rider in third overall.
"I started the week a little bit sick but I just slogged away and made the front group every day," said Mullen. "This year's route was a bit flatter which suited me and we rode well in the wind all week. I've never won a jersey in my life, so I'm delighted."
Ian Richardson of Dublin UCD also put in a storming ride this week to take 10th place overall, and with it the county rider classification.
Contador climbs clear of Aru in Giro
Alberto Contador extended his overall lead of the Giro d'Italia by seven seconds yesterday after finishing third behind winner Mikel Landa of Astana on a mountainous 15th stage.
Landa attacked on the final steep section of the climb up to the Madonna Di Campiglio ski resort to claim his first Grand Tour stage win ahead of Yuri Trofimov.
Contador finished five seconds behind his fellow Spaniard, but edged out his closest challenger Fabio Aru to claim valuable bonus seconds. The Tinkoff-Saxo rider extended his lead over Aru to 2 minutes, 35 seconds in the overall standings.
"It's an important win for me and the team, because a win like this belongs to everyone when you work as we did today," said Landa, who is fourth in the overall standings and rides for Astana along with Aru.
Today is a rest day, before the race continues in the mountains with a 174km leg from Pinzolo to Aprica