'You dream of days like this,' says Teggart after delivering for An Post
Matthew Teggart delivered the first Irish win of this year's An Post Rás when he outsprinted a 13-man front group to claim victory at the end of a blistering third stage to Bundoran yesterday.
Originally part of a 26-man breakaway group, most of whom went clear after 15km of the 150km stage, Teggart had An Post-Chain Reaction team-mates Damien Shaw and Sean McKenna alongside him for the day, even when the group split in half inside the last 25km.
With Shaw and McKenna giving Teggart an armchair ride into Bundoran, the 21-year-old Banbridge rider rewarded their work in the final gallop to the line, outsprinting British pro Ian Bibby (JLT Condor) and Frenchman Stephane Poulhies (Armee de Terre) for the biggest victory of his career.
"Damien and Sean pretty much sacrificed themselves for me all day and I tried to do as little as possible," said a delighted Teggart afterwards. "In the end it was a big gallop and becasue of the tailwind I kicked early, with 300m to go, and just managed to hold everyone off. I don't have the words for what this win means to me. You dream of days like this."
Having barely made the start line of this year's race due to a missed flight the day before, Teggart's victory was made all the more impressive by the fact that the Rás is his first race back after breaking his elbow while on national team duty at the U23 Liege-Bastogne-Liege in March.
"I've struggled a wee bit with injury," he admitted. "But the sponsors of the team have been great, the Cenit Centre (in Girona) really looked after me and I've done a lot of training at altitude leading up to this. To be fair (team manager) Kurt (Bogaerts) just let me work away. I really didn't know how it would go. You always think you're going well but until you get into a race you've no idea really."
Teggart's victory sees him move up to third overall, 22 seconds behind new race leader Dennis Bakker, who was also in the winning move, finishing fourth on the stage.
"When I got into the break it was really early in the race," said the Dutchman. "So we just waited to see what happened behind. But no team was able to bring us back. It was already amazing to have the mountains jersey and now to have the yellow too, it's a special day."
It was a good day for domestic riders too with Philip Lavery of Tipperary Panduit taking sixth place and going into the leading county rider's jersey, while Team Ireland's Darragh O'Mahony (seventh) Shaw (eighth) and McKenna (10th) also finished inside the top ten.
All four are within 22 seconds of the coveted yellow jersey now.