Tuesday 20 February 2018

Yellow jersey leader Patrick Bevin wins scintillating sprint

Stage winner and race leader Patrick Bevin, New Zealand National Team, throws flowers to spectators after Stage 4 of the 2014 An Post Rás.
Stage winner and race leader Patrick Bevin, New Zealand National Team, throws flowers to spectators after Stage 4 of the 2014 An Post Rás.

Patrick Bevin took his second stage win of this year’s An Post Rás today when he edged a very close bunch sprint coming in to Cahirciveen on day four of the race.

Retaining his lead at the top of the general classification (GC), the New Zealand National Team rider outsprinted last year’s winner Marcin Bialoblocki (Britain Velosure Giordana) and Peter Williams (France Bretagne Velotec), who finished second and third respectively.

Today’s stage four from Charleville in to Cahirciveen was pinpointed by many as the toughest of this year’s race. Not only was it the longest of the eight stages, at 183 kilometres, but it featured no less than ten categorised climbs. The daunting category one ascent of Coomanaspic looked certain to play a key role in the day’s proceedings.

Despite a couple of short lived attacks, the bunch stayed together for the majority of the first 70 kilometres of the race. Heading out of Castleisland a dozen riders went clear, including three Irishmen -  Eugene Moriarty (Dublin North Team 39 Spin 11), Ronan McLaughlin (Donegal Inishowen Gateway McCafe) and Patrick Clarke (Mayo South Centra). The group, led by Alessandro Pettiti (Italy team Ideal) opened up a gap of two minutes at one stage, putting Pettiti top of the general classification for a brief period.

Going in to the category two climb of Raheen, Moriarty struggled to keep pace with the break and dropped 20 seconds back. The Kerry native dug deep and showed great determination however to rejoin the leaders thirty kilometres from the finish. Back in the bunch the New Zealand Team, led by Bevin, were chipping away at the breakaway’s lead and approaching the final climb at Coomanaspic the gap was down to 1 minute 15 seconds.

Pettiti attacked from the front and led solo going over the summit of Coomanaspic. Owain Doull, of the An Post Chain Reaction team, gave chase, managing to catch Pettiti on the descent. The two leaders rode hard at high speed to stay away but were reeled in by a chasing group of five riders.

With only 10 kilometres to go the yellow jersey group had closed the gap to just 45 seconds. The lead continued to dwindle and with only four kilometres to go the groups amalgamated, leaving approximately forty riders to battle it out to the line.

Alex Peters (Britain Madison Genesis) attacked and went clear but with only a few hundred metres to the line, yellow jersey leader Bevin burst to the front to claim a magnificent victory.

Bevin was overjoyed with the stage win and also keeping his lead at the top of the general classification intact but attributed the victory to his hard working team mates.

“It’s amazing to get the win but it was all down to the great work of the New Zealand National team. They worked so hard and the stage win is a testament to their work. Going over the last climb I was at the front of the bunch and I just took it step by step. I managed to catch one group, then another and I just found myself right up the front and at that stage I just couldn’t help but go for the stage win.”

Bevin retains a 1 minute 55 seconds lead over Clemens Fankhauser (Austria Tirol cycling) and Pettiti at the top of the general classification, and also retains the points classification jersey. Pettiti claimed title to the King of the Mountains jersey, while Alex Peters (Britain Madison Genesis) once again took the Under-23 classification. Damien Shaw (Cork City Aquablue) rode superbly and goes in to tomorrow’s stage wearing the county rider jersey.

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