Rás title settled by a second after Bugter's late attack
On a day of drama in Skerries, Dutchman Luuc Bugter of Delta Cycling claimed overall victory at Rás Tailteann by the slenderest of margins yesterday as a last-minute attack took him clear of overnight leader Cyrille Thiery of Switzerland.
After seven days of deadlock at the top of the overall classification, Bugter jumped away with team-mate Sjoerd Bax and Belgium's Robbe Ghys on the final ascent of this year's Rás, the short but steep Blackhills climb, on the outskirts of Skerries.
Having begun the day in second place, just 10 seconds off the race leader, Bugter worked ferociously in the last 10km to try to put enough time between himself and Thiery by the finish.
At one point the trio had 18 seconds' advantage but with the Swiss squad clawing their way back in the final kilometres, it came right down to the wire on Main Street as Ghys took the stage victory from a shattered Bugter.
It took a few minutes but when the times were tallied at the finish, the Dutchman had done enough to secure the biggest victory of his career by a single second.
"I knew it was possible because we had some climbs on the circuit and the Swiss guys were riding hard the last few stages and were a little bit tired," said the 24-year-old from Rotterdam.
"I have a good team here and when Sjoerd attacked, I got away with him at the top of the climb. The yellow jersey was isolated in the peloton and I felt really good.
"I rode full gas and did everything to win but I didn't expect to win. I can't believe it! I can't believe I've done it! I'm very happy with this victory. I have to thank my team-mates for what they did for me, it's crazy."
Stage winner Ghys has rarely been out of the top five since the Ras left Drogheda last Sunday and the Belgian track star was delighted with his final stage win.
His breakaway yesterday also saw him claim the white jersey of best U-23 and leapfrog Mullingar man Damien Shaw onto the last step of the podium.
"I've been close on a few days where I maybe sprinted too early or was on the wrong wheel," said Ghys of his sprint victory.
"Today I knew the Delta guys were going to attack on the last climb."
Bugter also claimed the green jersey of points winner, while Lukas Reugg of Switzerland took the mountains competition.
Shaw of Holdsworth was best of the Irish in fourth, losing out on a podium place by just ten seconds, while Mark Dowling took the blue jersey for best county rider overall.
Westmeath's Viner-Caremark-Pactimo squad took the honours as top county team overall.