Roscommon’s Daire Feeley finished an impressive 25th overall in the An Post Rás in his first attempt at the race. Finishing 37th in today’s Final Stage saw him rise one place in the overall classification. He finished 2nd in the Overall Irish County Rider Classification and was 7th in the Under 23 Competition.
Picture Credit: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Clemens Fankhauser today became the first rider since Chris Newton in 2003 and 2005 to be crowned a two-time winner of An Post Rás. The Austria Tirol Cycling rider put on a classy display on today’s final stage into a crowd thronged Skerries to finish in the main bunch, maintaining his lead on the General Classification and lifting the coveted trophy for the second time in three years.
Nicolai Brochner (Denmark Riwal Platform) was the victor of the eighth and final stage of this year’s race. The Dane secured his second stage win of the week, outsprinting Taco van der Hoorn (Netherlands Join-S De Rijke) and the An Post Chain Reaction pairing of Emiel Wastyn and Aaron Gate, to the line.
It had been a tough seven days in the saddle for the 149 riders who took to the start line in Kildare. The peloton had travelled over 1,087 kilometres around the country and tired legs were sure to play a part in proceedings.
For riders high up in the GC, today’s final stage gave them one last chance to overcome Fankhausers marginal time lead. The route in to Skerries posed few problems for the peloton but a gruelling finishing circuit, incorporating three ascents of the Black Hills climb, would ensure an action packed last 30 kilometres of racing.
Several attacks were thwarted early on but with an incredible pace of 47 kilometres covered in the first hour it wasn’t long before one would stick. That break came shortly before Dunsany and involved a group of six riders – Ronan McLaughlin (Irish National Team), Bryan McCrystal (Louth Asea wheelworx), Craig Evers (Australia Data Cisco Racing), Rob Partridge (Britain NFTO Pro Cycling), Marc Potts (Britain Neon Velo Cycling) and Conor Dunne (Britain JLT Condor p/b Mavic).
The breakaway, driven by Crystal, forged a two minute 40 second lead over the bunch and stayed clear as they crossed the first of three passes over the finish line in Skerries. The pace was intense and slowly the lead group began to diminish. Potts was dropped going over the first climb of the category three Black Hills and was followed shortly by Evers and Partridge.
Jack Wilson of An Post Chain Reaction was working tirelessly at the head of the chasing bunch and with only six kilometres to go, the leaders had been swallowed up and it was all to play for heading towards the finish line.
Stage two winner, James Gullen (Britain Pedal Heaven), briefly jumped clear but Brochner had other plans. The Dane responded, emptying the tank to overtake Gullen on the final stretch cross the line to the roar of the huge crowds on Skerries Main Street.
A classy Fankhauser, who was hospitalised on stage one after a bad crash, spoke of his delight at winning the famous race once again.
“I am so thrilled. It was a tough eight days. I had a bad crash on the first stage and I was sore for a few days after that but my teammates worked hard for me and I hung on in the end. It means so much to me to win this race for the second time. The reception and love I receive when I am over in Ireland is incredible. I just want to thank everyone for their support.”
For the second successive year, Ian Richardson (Dublin UCD Fitz Cycles) rode superbly over the eight days and took home the best county rider award. Jai Hindley (Australian National Team) held the Under 23 jersey from start to the finish and looks a real star for the future, while Aaron Gate won the green points jersey and Nikodemus Holler (Germany Stradalli Bike Aid) comfortably won the King of the Mountains classification.
Stage seven winner, Eddie Dunbar (Irish National Team), finished a highly impressive fourth on the GC, just ahead of Mullingar native Damien Shaw (An Post Chain Reaction).
The Irish County Team Competition was won by LOUTH Asea Wheelworx with Daire Feeley’s Team iTap finishing 6th.