Van Dalen's jump earns stage victory
There was more Dutch domination on Rás Tailteann yesterday as Jason van Dalen of Delta Cycling Rotterdam took victory ahead of Westmeath's Matteo Cigala and Robbe Ghys of Belgium at the end of stage four into Glengarrif.
With eight climbs, including Molls Gap, Ladies View and the sinuously steep Healy Pass, to be contested on the way from Listowel, yesterday was expected to be a day for the mountain men.
However, one day after Van Dalen's team-mate Luuc Bugter sprinted home at the head of affairs in Listowel, it was the squad from the flatlands of Holland that produced the stage winner once again.
It was a day where Irish county riders were active throughout the stage with Kerry's Conor Kissane taking maximum points at the top of Lady's View, Molls Gap, and Garrenes when leading a four-man escape that also included Simon Ryan (Cork Strata 3-VeloRevolution) and Sean Hahassey (Westmeath Viner-Caremack-Pactimo), to move himself into second in the king of the mountains classification by the end of the stage.
This quartet was reeled in before the day's biggest climb, the Healy Pass after 127km, however, and a select front group containing Van Dalen and most of the overall contenders for this year's Rás, as well as an Irish contingent of Darnell Moore (Ireland), Mark Dowling (Leinster), Holdsworth duo Conn McDunphy and Damien Shaw, Matteo Cigala and his Westmeath Viner-Caremack-Pactimo team-mate Ronan McLaughlin pulled clear.
With Van Dalen's team-mate, stage three winner and points leader Bugter, also in the front group, all eyes were on the man in the green jersey coming into the sprint, according to second-placed Cigala.
"I didn't expect (Van Dalen) to be so quick because his team-mate has been sprinting the last few days," admitted the Italian who moved to Ireland after falling in love with a Meath girl more than three years ago and has become a regular winner on the domestic scene since.
"I was coming up quick in the last few metres and almost got him but I was just a little bit too late.
"To be honest, I had drawn a line through today in terms of chances of winning a stage because I'm not a proper climber, but I was climbing really well today. I didn't expect to do so well today, so I'm super happy with second."
Also in that elite front group was overnight leader Cyrille Thiery of Switzerland, who retained the yellow jersey he has worn since day one.
At the halfway mark in the race, the Swiss rider's nearest rival Bugter remains just 10 seconds back while Holdsworth's Damien Shaw from Mullingar lies just 11 seconds down in third overall.
Ronan McLaughlin moved into the blue jersey of best county rider yesterday while Robbe Ghys (Belgium) keeps the U-23 jersey as the race traverses the Pass of Keimenaigh on the way to Mitchelstown today.
Viviani edges Bennett while Yates retains lead
Italy’s Elia Viviani claimed his fourth win of the Giro d’Italia on Friday after edging a bunch sprint on the 17th stage at Iseo as the rain poured down, with Britain’s Simon Yates retaining the overall lead.
Quick-Step Floors rider Viviani held off a strong late surge from Irishman Sam Bennett in a frenzied finish, with another Italian, Niccolo Bonifazio, coming third.
Yates, who began the day 56 seconds ahead of defending champion Tom Dumoulin, finished the 155km course from Riva da Garda in the main bunch to keep his lead intact.
Viviani, who opened his Giro campaign with back-to-back stage wins and also won stage 13, is the first Italian to win four stages at a Giro since Ivan Basso in 2006, and extended his points classification lead over Bennett to 58 points.
Yates is in a strong position to become the first Briton to win the Giro, with the race heading back into the mountains today, where the 25-year-old Bury native will look to take more time away from time-trial specialist Dumoulin.
Italy’s Domenico Pozzovivo is in third place in the general classification, three minutes and 11 seconds behind Yates, while four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome is fourth overall, three minutes and 50 seconds behind the leader.