| 18.1°C Dublin

De Pauw's game of 'poker' pays off as McConvey runs out of luck

Young Belgian sprinter Moreno De Pauw blasted clear of Belfast man Connor McConvey and Dane Rasmus Guldhammer just 400m from the line in Mitchelstown to take victory on stage five of the An Post Ras.

The trio had been part of a late escape bid which almost saw McConvey snatch the yellow jersey from overnight leader Marcin Bialoblocki in the final 5km of the 150km stage.

But there was to be no Irish race leader in Mitchelstown yesterday as De Pauw cut his engines in the final kilometre and stopped working to help the other two open a gap, instead ensuring he was fresh enough to jump clear of his colleagues into the final corner and take stage victory by a single second.

"We really had a tough time out front and at one kilometre to go, I saw the bunch were getting closer and closer," said the 21-year-old.

"I was playing a little bit of poker. I know I'm a good sprinter and just before the last corner at 400m to go, I started sprinting. I kept sprinting until the line and I won. I'm really happy. This is my biggest win. It's just fantastic really."

Not so happy, however, were McConvey and Guldhammer, who managed to snatch the minor stage placings but took no time away from race leader Bialoblocki as the peloton caught them in the gallop to the line.

"I was close to winning but I was hoping I'd get one or two seconds and then it would be me or the Baku guy (McConvey) leading," said Guldhammer afterwards.

"When we caught the Belgian guy in the last few kilometres, he wasn't riding at all and in the sprint he came from the back and neither of us could hold him because we were tired. But that's the way it goes and I'm still happy with second today. It's still the same overall so hopefully in the next few days we're going to attack some more and get some seconds."

McConvey too is hoping he can do something to get rid of race leader Bialoblocki before Sunday's final stage in Skerries.

"There's still a few more hard days to come so we'll see what happens," said the second-placed Belfast man.

"I don't know if I'd fancy my chances if it comes down to stage placings on the last day because Marcin has won bunch kicks outright before and I'm struggling to hold on sometimes.

HARDEST

"In theory, it could come to that, but there's still some racing to be done by then and probably the hardest day, in terms of the route, comes on Saturday so we'll see."

Bialablocki though, looks a tough nut to crack and looked fresh after an "easy day" yesterday.

"It wasn't very hard," said the Polish rider of yesterday's stage. "It was an easy day. It was actually very nice, sitting in the bunch talking to my team-mates. I could chill out. It was a very nice day."

Even the late attack from McConvey and Guldhammer didn't overly concern him.

"I wasn't worried because I knew the other teams wanted to win the stage as well," he said.

"I chased for a bit, but in the end everyone started sprinting and we closed the gap. I'm happy now. I have been in yellow for three days. If I keep it, I will be even happier."

Irish Independent