A heroic ride today by Dundalk’s Bryan McCrystal fell agonisingly short as he was caught with only five kilometres to go to securing a famous Rás stage victory.
The Team Asea rider was at the front of the break for almost 100 kilometres before being swallowed up by the chasing pack, with An Post’s Aaron Gate winning a bunch sprint to the line to take the stage victory.
Following a flurry of early attacks, the race remained together until the 40 kilometre mark where a four man group consisting of McCrystal , Tipperary’s Simon Ryan (Mego RT), Hugo Robinson (Neon Velo) and Dominic Jelfs (Madison Genesis) broke away from the pack.
Robinson quickly sat up as the remaining three riders in the break continued to drive on and form a considerable lead. Coming up to Poulacapple the gap continued to soar and the trio’s lead stood at six minutes.
It was at this stage former professional footballer, McCrystal, found another gear and one by one he showed a clean pair of wheels to his breakaway rivals. Ryan was first to be dropped before McCrystal accelerated away from Jelfs shortly after.
McCrystal looked primed to take the stage victory, holding a three minute lead coming into the second category three climb of the day through Aherlow. He powered his way up the pain staking climb but behind him the bunch were working hard and his lead began to dramatically dwindle.
On the descent of Aherlow, he was caught and with only seven kilometres to go it was anyone’s stage. A frantic finish ensued as the peloton hurtled towards the finish line. As the riders came up Tipperary Main Street, with only 200 metres to go, Gate showed superior sprinting skills to clinch the stage victory ahead of his compatriot Alex Frame (New Zealand National Team).
Lukas Postlberger (Austria Tirol Cycling Team), who finished fourth on today’s stage, becomes the new yellow jersey leader, as Italian rider Francesco Reda (Team IDEA) was disqualified from the race for holding on to his team’s car.
After today’s results Postlberger also claims the points classification jersey, while Robert Partridge(Team NFTO) overtook Elliot Porter (Team 3M) to win the King of The Mountains jersey. Best County Rider once again went to Ian Richardson (Dublin UCD) while Jaap de Man (Team 3M) continues to stay on the top of the Under-23 classification.
A delighted Gate was quick to acknowledge the work of his team mates in securing today’s victory.
“It was a lightning fast finish, coming off the last climb with a tail wind. That final ascent was tough so I was happy to get over it and from there I received a great lead out from Josh Edmondson and thankfully managed to get to the line first.”