Soldier Yssaad outguns the field
There was no change at the top of the GC on the An Post Rás yesterday, as French soldier Yannis Yssaad blasted into Donegal at the head of a 16-strong front group to claim victory on stage six.
Twenty-three-year-old French infantry man Yssaad was one of the first to fire a salvo on yesterday's 132km stage, going clear in the opening kilometres with Ulster duo Chris McGlinchey and Cormac McGeough, Philip Lavery of Tipperary Panduit, Eoin Morton (Ireland) and William Bjergfelt of the British Neon Velo team.
With their advantage up to two minutes by the time Morton led the sextet over the category-three climb at Loughnambraddan after 17.5km, overnight leader James Gullen's JTL Condor team began to chase.
As the peloton split under the pressure, the yellow jersey group merged with the leaders after 40km and the new 49-strong break had two-and-a-half minutes as they headed towards the category one climb of the Glengesh Pass.
Here, Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (An Post Chain Reaction) went clear and having been joined by another member of the French army team, Thomas Rostollon, on the descent, Kasperkiewicz stayed out front for the four remaining climbs and did enough to take home the King of the Mountains jersey.
With numerous skirmishes off the front in the closing kilometres and riders dropped every time the road went uphill, a 16-man group came to the line in Donegal town.
Here, Yssaad out-gunned former yellow jerseys Dane Nicolai Nielsen and Dutchman Dennis Bakker for stage glory, with another former race leader Matthew Teggart best of the Irish in seventh, just one place ahead of Mark Downey of the Irish national team.
"We were unlucky at the start of the race with three third places," said stage winner Yssaad afterwards, "so it's great to get the first win here.
"Today I won with the help of a great army team. I didn't expect to win this morning and I am so happy. It's a great day for me, and for the team."
Philip Lavery (Carrick Wheelers, Panduit) was first county rider across the line yesterday in 11th place while Michael O'Loughlin took 12th to hold onto his ninth place overall and best U-23 jersey.
Race leader Gullen retained his 1'05" cushion over Dutchman Ike Groen (Delta Cycling Rotterdam), with Aussie Cameron Meyer third at 2'35".
With just two days left, Damien Shaw (An Post Chain Reaction) is best Irishman overall in fifth at 4'32".
Daire Feeley (iTap) is still the best-placed county rider overall in 15th, with Bakker retaining his points competition lead.