FBD Milk Rás Feature
NEWTON WINS FBD MILK RAS, POWER THIRD ON STAGE: (By Shane Stokes May 25) Chris Newton today became the second English rider to win the FBD Milk Rás, successfully defending his race leader’s yellow jersey on the concluding stage in Dublin’s Phoenix Park. Newton’s Great Britain team were of vital help in controlling the flat-out one hour circuit race, as Swedish rider Tobias Lergard and Dane Ari Hojgaard were just five and twelve seconds back respectively.
Lergard made a big effort to go clear close to the end of today’s race, but Newton’s team hauled him back and paved the way for a bunch finish. US professional Adam Hodges Myerson won what was a hard-fought, dangerous sprint, with former Tour of Spain points winner Malcolm Elliott pipping Ireland’s Ciarán Power to take second on the stage. Elliott was, by his reckoning, heading for the first big win of his racing comeback but was impeded by a rider in the dash for the line. He had to use his shoulder and head to prevent the rider from ushering him into the barriers, but was able to regain enough momentum to hold off a fast-finishing Power.
Eugene Moriarty of the Meath Lee Strand Cycleways Team was fifth on the stage, taking the best county rider award for a remarkable sixth day in succession. Also finishing in the top ten was his team-mate Ray Clarke, while Colm Bracken (Dublin Iarnród Eireann), Tommy Evans (Ireland – Irish Sports Council), Brian Ahern (Kildare HirEquip), Kieran McMahon (Dublin Iarnród Eireann) and Aidan Crowley (Meath Lee Strand Cycleways) all placed in the top twenty.
‘I had a hard time on some of the stages this week, with the weather, wind and a bit of food poisoning, but was really aiming to do well today,’ said the victorious Hodges Myerson. ‘It is more my kind of event. The race itself was very hard; I am about ten pounds lighter and one hundred times fitter after this week of racing, but it should be good preparation for the US professional championships next week.’
‘That’s why I had to keep going, even though I was dropped a few times in the race. It is a long way to come too, so we weren’t going to go home early. I stuck in there and today shows the value of perseverance.’
Malcolm Elliott was frustrated with his third place on the stage, although happy to have finished the FBD Milk Rás in good shape. ‘Eight days of racing was always going to be a big test for me, not having raced and trained in six years. Having gone so close on the last day is a good sign, but it could have been that little bit sweeter.’
‘I got leaned on in the sprint by one of the riders from the Team Down Under squad. I was going by him and his sprint was starting to die…I think he decided not to let anyone else by. I was able to get by him, but it cost me a bit. I don’t often say “I’d have won that race” but I think today I would have got it all right.’
His compatriot Chris Newton was more than happy with things, now joining his team-mate Paul Manning as the only two Englishmen to have won the race. ‘I was a bit nervous this morning as I had such a slender lead, but with just an hour of racing I knew the only way I could lose it was through a puncture or a crash,’ he said. ‘My team-mates controlled things today and though Lergard got clear at one point, we were in control. We left him out there for a while so he wouldn’t try it again, and were then able to bring him back. The crowds were really fantastic around the park, it was a nice end to the race.’
‘Winning the Rás is great, and it is all the more sweeter after going close last year. When I was in second (12 months ago) there was not much pressure at all; taking the jersey this time brought a lot of pressure, but to have that and get the win is very rewarding.’
Best of the Irish in the overall standings was the former yellow jersey Tommy Evans, who finished five minutes and five seconds behind Newton in eighth. Irish-based Paddy Moriarty had a great ride to take tenth overall, and was best of the county riders in the overall standings.
‘It was a hard race…I just hung on in there as long as I could. The day to Clifden was an example...it wasn’t really a matter of picking the right move, it was more about staying up there as long as possible. What I think is the big difference is that the foreign lads have savage recovery. That’s a big difference by the end of the race. You can see the county riders getting more and more tired as the week goes on but the internationals are still going well.’
One who bucked this trend was Eugene Moriarty, who was best county rider on six consecutive stages. He also finished second on the third stage, and clearly benefited from his racing in Australia and America this year. ‘I knew since I got back from America that I should be going well in the race. I was disappointed to lose time on the stage to Clifden – I missed a split and also stopped to put on a rain jacket…I was that cold that I had to do it.’
‘I felt very comfortable on today’s stage. I knew the best place to be would be behind the yellow jersey as it would be safest, and that his team would be controlling the pace. My legs felt good and I was hoping to get up in the sprint, but things got very hectic before the finish. There was a lot of fighting for positions and so I was back a little.’
And so the FBD Milk Rás ends for another year. It was a fine race, albeit one hampered by some pretty terrible weather, but a well-run and most interesting contest. Newton carries off the top honours, while Jonas Holmkvist of the Bianchi Scandinavia team takes home the points jersey. The Kazakh Maxim Iglinskiv was King of the Mountains. Holmkvist’s team-mate Thomas Lovkvist was leading under 23 rider and they took best International team, while the Meath Lee Strand Cycleways squad were first county team. Tony Brady won the tussle to become best second category in the race.
Credit too to all the county riders who got through what was a very difficult eight days. Those such as Orwell’s Martin Caddow, Cathal Keane (Mayo Galway Bay) and Sean Furley (London Irish) dug deep to survive against professional and international teams; that kind of courageous perseverance is an important part of the event, and something which they can be proud of. See Pictures of Rás Stage 8 Here...
FBD Milk Rás stage 8, Phoenix Park: 1, Adam Hodges Myerson (Team Sportsbook.com) 1 hour 11 mins 58 secs; 2, M. Elliott (London Irish Team Sdeals); 3, C. Power (Team Ireland – Irish Sports Council); 4, C. Stevenson (Team Down Under – Australia); 5, E. Moriarty (Meath Lee Strand Cycleways); 6, J. Holmkvist (Bianchi Scandinavia – Sweden); 7, J. Ljungblad (Bianchi Scandinavia – Sweden); 8, A. Bazayev (Kazakhstan); 9, R. Clarke (Meath Lee Strand Cycleways); 10, D. Worthington (Surrey Team gbcycles.co.uk) all same time
Grant Thornton prime, lap 2: Holmkvist; Cycleways prime, lap 4: Ljungblad; Cycleways prime, lap 6: Hodges Myerson; Grant Thornton prime, lap 8: Ljungblad; Cycleways prime, lap 10: M. Iglinskiv (Kazakhstan); Cycleways prime, lap 12: A. Bazayev (Kazakhstan); Grant Thornton prime, lap 14: Elliott
Cuchulann county rider: Moriarty
International team: Bianchi Scandinavia – Sweden
County team: Meath Lee Strand Cycleways
General Classification: 1, Chris Newton (Great Britain) 730 miles in 29 hours 10 mins 10 secs; 2, Lergard, at 5 secs; 3, A. Hojgaard (Denmark Jylland – Fyn) at 12 secs; 4, Lovatt, at 34 secs; 5, J. Tanner (Lancaster Life Repair) at 1 min 15 secs; 6, H. Haynes (England North West) same time; 7, I. McLeod (HSBC – South Africa) at 2 mins 9 secs; 8, T. Evans (Team Ireland – Irish Sports Council) at 5 mins 5 secs; 9, T. Lovkvist (Bianchi Scandinavia – Sweden), at 5 mins 35; 10, P. Moriarty (Dublin Skip) at 6 mins 3 secs; 11, J. Holmkvist (Bianchi Scandinavia – Sweden) at 6 mins 59 secs; 12, A. Medyannikov (Kazakhstan) at 7 mins 12 secs
Other: 13, P. Griffin (Dublin Iarnród Eireann) at 7 mins 24 secs; 15, C. Power (Team Ireland – Irish Sports Council) at 12 mins 39 secs; 16, E. Moriarty (Meath Lee Strand Cycleways) at 14 mins 32 secs; 23, B. Ahern (Kildare HirEquip) at 22 mins 47 mins; 28, R. Clarke (Meath Lee Strand Cycleways) at 25 mins 20 secs; 29, R. Cahill (Tipperary Dan Morrissey) at 26 mins 42 secs; 30, J. Fenlon (Tipperary Dan Morrissey)
Points: 1, Holmkvist, 81; 2, C. Power (Team Ireland – Irish Sports Council) 64; 3, Moriarty, 64
Mountains: 1, Maxim Iglinskiv (Kazakhstan) 45; 2, Bazayev, 43; 3, A. Medyannikov (Kazakhstan) 39
Under 23: 1, Thomas Lovkvist (Bianchi Scandinavia – Sweden); 2, J. Holmkvist, at 1 min 24 secs; 3, A. Medyannikov (Kazakhstan) at 1 min 37 secs
CI category 2: 1, Tony Brady (Meath Donnelly Avonmore); 2, M. McLeavey (Dublin Skip); 3, F. Kelly (Wicklow Sahara)
Cycleways County rider: 1, Paddy Moriarty (Dublin Skip); 2, P. Griffin (Dublin Iarnród Eireann) at 1 min 21 secs; 3, E. Moriarty, at 8 mins 29 secs
International team: 1, Bianchi Scandinavia-Sweden; 2, Kazakhstan, at 9 mins 47 secs; 3, Ireland – Irish Sports Council, at 13 mins 19 secs
County team: 1, Meath Lee Strand Cycleways; 2, Dublin Iarnród Eireann, at 27 mins 44 secs; 3, Tipperary Dan Morrissey, at 29 mins 57 secs
POWER WINS, NEWTON ON VERGE OF OVERALL VICTORY: (By Shane Stokes May 24) The Irish team today took their third stage win of this year’s FBD Milk Rás when Ciarán Power put in a dominant performance to win the penultimate leg of the race. Power went on the attack just one mile into the 112 mile stage from Donegal to Oldcastle, joining up with Jaaron Poad (Team Down Under - Australia), Patrick Kohler (RG Gutersloh/Neheim - Germany) and Wales' Yanto Barker in a four-man move. Showing great strength, the Team Ireland rider drove the group along and, despite a mechanical problem and a puncture, helped them to open up a near five-minute lead. With ten kilometres to go he went clear with Kohler and had little trouble in shedding the German before the finish, freewheeling across the line some sixteen seconds clear. The victory was Power's second in the race and the third professional win of his career.
Poad took third on the stage, just over a minute and a half back, while the race leader Chris Newton came home as part of the main bunch and so remains at the head of the general classification with just tomorrow’s one hour circuit race to come.
The stage-long breakaway was initiated by Poad, who kicked clear of the bunch immediately after the drop of the flag and quickly built a fifteen seconds advantage. Power seized the moment to race clear and tore across the gap, with Kohler and Barker making the junction shortly afterwards and getting a determined collaboration underway.
Earlier in the week the escape would have prompted a strong reaction from the bunch, but several factors helped the quartet's efforts to build a decent lead. Barker was best placed overall, but his deficit of thirteen minutes and fifteen seconds meant that the move was not going to cause any serious panic within the ranks of the Great Britain riders, whose job it was to counter dangerous moves. Their reluctance to close down the quartet was echoed by the passivity of other teams, who were compromised by tiring riders and perhaps too a degree of defeatism. Chase? Why bother, when there is no yellow jersey to be won, little chance of a stage win, and leg muscles pummelled by tough miles and dodgy weather.
One the initial gap was made, however, there was another major reason why the escape gained time so quickly. Two days ago Ciarán Power seemed poised to make a strong challenge for what would be his third FBD Milk Rás title. He was just thirty seconds off the yellow jersey of his Ireland - Irish Sports Council team-mate Tommy Evans, and had been in great form during the preceding four stages. However, a major break went clear on the stage to Buncrana and with both Irishmen missing out, their Rás hopes evaporated. That disappointment meant that the focus turned towards other goals, with the squad vowing to try to win the final three stages; while Evans was denied yesterday when his foot slipped out of the pedal, Power was highly motivated to succeed today.
Boosted by the high output of the Navigators-professional, the break quickly gained time. Fifteen miles into the stage, they had over a minute. By the twenty-three mile point, this lead had doubled and by the time the group reached the start of the second category Bellavalley Gap, their advantage had gone out to four and a half minutes over the Great Britain-led bunch. Two hiccups were to follow, though; Barker lost contact on the climb and packed the race, while Power was delayed twice with a mechanical problem and a puncture. Poad and Kohler elected to wait for the Irishman, recognising that there were fifty miles to go and that he was the driving force in the break.
The delays cost the break some of their lead and with a splinter group going clear at the front of the bunch, their advantage dropped to two minutes and 45 seconds. Power regained contact and the trio knuckled down again, aided by the merging of the yellow jersey group and the rest of the main bunch, and a subsequent stall in the peloton.
The lead began to grow once more, and with twelve miles to go it was over five minutes. With the group now sure to stay clear, the tone changed up front; the stage was now up for grabs, and the gloves were off.
As expected, it was Power who started the moves, and drew clear on a slight uphill drag. Kohler led the chase and pulled him back, but the Irishman’s effort seemed to be more about softening up the group rather than pulling away then and there. Another kick saw off Poad, leaving two up front, and when a confident, clinical Power turned on the effort again in the last mile the German rider had nothing left to give, losing time rapidly on the final straight run into the finish.
Power crossed the line to huge cheers, taking his second win of the week, while a tired Kohler finished sixteen seconds down and Poad one thirty-four behind. His Team Down Under team-mate Cody Stevenson won the bunch gallop to take fourth, four minutes and nine seconds after Power, with points leader Jonas Holmkvist fifth and Eugene Moriarty sixth, best county rider yet again. Fellow Irishmen Eddie O’Donoghue (seventh) and Brian Ahern (eighth) also placed in the top ten, while Newton came home fourteenth and so maintained his overall lead.
‘It is fantastic to get this’, said Power after the stage. ‘I came into the race hoping for a stage win and perhaps the overall….the overall didn’t work out as I missed that move the other day, but to get two stages is great.’
‘When we went clear I just focussed on getting as big a gap as was possible. Once we got clear we built time well. I had a bit of trouble with a mechanical problem and a puncture, but I had been doing a lot of work in the break and so the other riders waited for me. We built up our lead again after that. Towards the end I attacked and got rid of one rider, and then I went again with a kilometre to go and gave it one hundred percent.’
‘Taking a second stage is great. I was a bit worried the other day when I missed the break…I had a puncture early on and when I got back up, I didn’t have the legs to go with that move. I had felt a bit tired that day and so was a bit worried about my form. But I felt 110 percent yesterday and even better today. Now the team will concentrate on tomorrow’s stage…we want to take that as well.’
Ireland manager Frankie Campbell echoed this ambition. ‘We were very disappointed to lose the jersey the other day as the team were in exceptional form. We knew we couldn’t go from being a very good team to a bad one overnight, and so decided to show people how strong we were. We planned to go for the last three stages…Tommy went close yesterday, but had problems with his pedal in the sprint. Ciarán won today and we will try to do it again tomorrow…it should come down to a sprint and that will suit us well.’
Another looking forward to the final stage is race leader Chris Newton, who today went a step closer to emulating team-mate Paul Manning’s 2001 win. ‘My chances are a bit better than they were this morning,’ he told the crowd after the stage. ‘I was a little nervous today as I have just five seconds lead. But the team rode very well for me, keeping it together. There is just an hour of racing left so hopefully all will go well for us.'
UNLUCKY EVANS LOSES OUT AS NEWTON HOLDS LEAD: (By Shane Stokes May 23) Team Ireland rider Tommy Evans went frustratingly close to landing his second stage win of the FBD Milk Rás today, losing out in a two man sprint due to a problem with his pedal. Evans bounced back from yesterday’s disappointment to go on the attack twenty miles into today’s stage, joining compatriots Eugene Moriarty and Ray Clarke and four foreign riders up the road during the 104 mile mountainous stage to Donegal.
As the group of race leader Chris Newton closed up towards the finish, Evans jumped clear several times and finally reached Donegal with Bianchi Scandinavia rider Jonas Holmkvist. The Belfastman looked to have the beating of the Swedish professional, but his foot slipped out of his pedal and thus enabled his opponent to take his second victory in five days.
Sixth on the stage was Evans’ team-mate Ciarán Power, who took the bunch sprint and also showed that he has recovered from the disappointment of yesterday. Two places further back was Moriarty, best county rider for the fourth day in succession, while Chris Newton finished tenth and successfully defended his yellow jersey.
The day had begun with on a low note for the Team Ireland – Irish Sports Council squad when it was announced that David O’Loughlin would not be signing on for the stage. The Mayo rider had made it into the winning break yesterday but faded dramatically in the last ten miles and finished 17 minutes back. O’Loughlin had started the race as one of the big favourites but was ill on Wednesday night, losing strength, sleep and his chances of winning the event.
It might have been expected that the Irish team’s morale would be at rock-bottom, but instead Tommy Evans came out fighting. He was involved in the early skirmishes and ended up going clear in a move started by the ever-aggressive Eugene Moriarty and the Kazakh Assan Bazayev twenty miles into the stage. Evans jumped across with Holmkvist and Moriarty’s team-mate Ray Clarke, while Swedish professional Thomas Lovkvist and Sportsbook.com pro Josh Beck later bridged, increasing the numbers up front to seven.
Evans was best placed of the septet in ninth overall, but his deficit of five and a half minutes meant that Newton was under no immediate threat. It appeared a policy of containment rather than recapture was ordered by team manager John Herety, and so Steve Cummings and Kieran Page came to the front in order to keep the bunch pace high and prevent the lead escalating to dangerous levels.
Through the sixty-mile point of Adara, the gap had grown to two minutes and forty seconds and gave the co-operating seven a good buffer before they hit the torturous first category Glengesh. Clarke and Beck lost contact on the one-in-four hairpin bends but the other five crested the tree-fringed summit one minute and fifteen seconds clear of Newton’s group.
With Power blocking behind this lead swelled once more, and by the village of Carrick, seventy four miles into the stage and twenty-nine from the finish, the quintet were over two and a half minutes clear. However this gap fell quickly when Newton’s chief rivals began to attack. The Lancaster Life Repair duo Mark Lovatt and John Tanner were particularly aggressive and while their one-two surges failed to break the yellow jersey, they did bring the bunch to within twenty seconds of the leaders.
In response, Evans injected some pace by darting clear in a series of attacks. Hauled back by the break, he tried again and finally succeeded in reaching the finish with just Holmkvist for company. However any thoughts of a consolatory stage win were foiled when his foot slipped out of his pedal during the sprint, opening the way for Holmkvist to take victory number two this week.
‘That was very frustrating, I think I would have got it,’ Evans said. ‘At least it is an improvement on yesterday, when nothing worked out for the team. I decided to have a go today as there was no point in us feeling sorry for ourselves, losing the jersey, and our chance of winning the race. And it nearly worked out.’
Another rueing a near-miss was Eugene Moriarty, who was caught out when the pattern of attack and counter-attack split the break. ‘When Tommy got across to us early on in the stage I thought that we wouldn’t get far but the gap went up to three minutes. That turned out to be enough at the end, but unfortunately there was a lot of jumping around and I got caught out. If it had come down to a sprint at the finish I think I would have had a decent chance. I was instead caught by Newton’s group, but with the help of my team-mate Philip Finegan I was able to make my way up to the front for the sprint. That meant I got the best county rider prize for the fourth day running’.
Moriarty is anticipating a hard day on tomorrow’s penultimate stage, a 112 mile race to Oldcastle. This represents the last big chance for Newton’s rivals to try to seize yellow, and there is likely to be flat-out, frantic racing all the way. Three riders are within half a minute of his lead; this FBD Milk Rás isn’t over yet.
* FBD Milk Rás coverage: Sunday, Network 2 at 23.05
FBD Milk Rás stage 6, Buncrana – Donegal: 1, Jonas Holmkvist (Bianchi Scandinavia-Sweden) 103.7 miles in 4 hours 7 mins 38 secs; 2, T. Evans (Team Ireland – Irish Sports Council) same time; 3, T. Lovkvist (Bianchi Scanindavia – Sweden) at 1 sec; 4, M. Lovatt (Lancaster Life Repair Group) at 24 secs; 5, D. Spence (HSBC – South Africa) same time; 6, C. Power (Team Ireland – Irish Sports Council) at 28 secs; 7, M. Iglinskiv (Kazakhstan); 8, E. Moriarty (Meath Lee Strand Cycleways); 9, M. Elliott (London Irish); 10, C. Newton (Great Britain) all same time
King of the mountains primes: Meenirroy, category 2: 1, Andrey Bazayev (Kazakhstan) 10 points; 2, Lovkvist, 8; 3, Evans, 6
Glengesh, category 1: 1, Bazayev, 15; 2, Lovkvist, 12; 3, Evans, 10
Bogagh, category 2: 1, Tommy Evans, 10; 2, Bazayev, 8; 3, Moriarty, 6
Bavin, category 2: 1, Bazayev, 10; 2, Evans, 8; 3, Lovkvist, 6
Cuchulann Crystal county rider: Moriarty
Cottar Hoose Irish category 2: Fergal Kelly (Tony Brady (Meath Donnelly Avonmore)
International team: Bianchi Scandinavia Sweden
County team: Meath Lee Strand Cycleways
General Classification: 1, Chris Newton (Great Britain) 23 hours 52 mins 9 secs; 2, Lergard, at 5 secs; 3, A. Hojgaard (Denmark Jylland – Fyn) at 12 secs; 4, Lovatt, at 34 secs; 5, P. Manning (Great Britain) at 1 min 15 secs; 6, J. Tanner (Lancaster Life Repair) same time; 7, H. Haynes (England North West) same time; 8, I. McLeod (HSBC – South Africa) at 2 mins 9 secs
Points: 1, Holmkvist, 60; 2, Moriarty, 43; 3, A. Bazayev (Kasakhstan) 40
Mountains: 1, Maxim Iglinskiv (Kazakhstan) 45; 2, Bazayev, 43; 3, A. Medyannikov (Kazakhstan) 39
Under 23: Thomas Lovkvist (Bianchi Scandinavia – Sweden)
CI category 2: Tony Brady (Meath Donnelly Avonmore)
Cycleways County rider: Paddy Moriarty (Dublin Skip)
International team: Bianchi Scandinavia-Sweden
County team: Meath Lee Strand Cycleways
IRISH CHALLENGE COLLAPSES AS NEWTON SEIZES CONTROL: (By Shane Stokes May 22) Hopes of a home win in the FBD Milk Ras went totally astray on today’s first real mountain stage of the race. The Irish Team had the yellow jersey and two other contenders for overall victory, David O'Loughlin and last year's winner Ciaran Power, but all failed in their bid to mount a challenge.
It was a tale of woe for the Irish team. Power and Evans missed a vital breakaway move, while O'Loughlin got into the group but blew up drastically on the gruelling Gap of Mamore. A year to the day after pulling out with food poisoning, the luckless Mayo rider suffered the effects of overnight fever in fading dramatically at the end of the day.
The stage to Buncrana was won by Great Britain rider Chris Newton, who also seized yellow and is now favourite to win overall. Kerryman Eugene Moriarty was an excellent seventh on the stage, while Evans remains best of the Irish in the general classification. However the 1996 winner is now five and a half minutes adrift and all Irish hopes of taking the race are surely gone.
Looking back, the first hour bore portents that the most crucial stage might not go their way. First O’Loughlin, then Power and finally Andrew Donnellan suffered punctures and lost vital energy in chasing back on. The need to reel in a number of breakaway attempts further sapped their strength, and when South African professional Daniel Spence and Irish county riders Eugene Moriaty and Ray Clarke sparked off a major move after 18 miles, things really started to unravel.
Coming out of the village of Muff a total of 19 riders were clear, eleven of which were in the top twenty and nine were within thirty seconds of Evans’ overall lead. The most dangerous of these was second-placed Ari Hojgaard, just four seconds behind, but so too John Tanner, Hamish Hayes, Tobias Lergard, Mark Lovatt and the Great Britain trio of Chris Newton, Kieran Page and 2001 winner Paul Manning. It was a case of deja-vu: for the second day running the Irish team had only O’Loughlin in the move. And while he was considered a real contender, it emerged after the stage that the Mayo rider had been ill during the night with fever.
With Power and Evans unable to cross to the move and little hope of getting a successful chase underway, team manager Frankie Campbell was forced to rely on O’Loughlin. ‘David felt very cold at the end of yesterday’s stage and then had a fever during the night,’ he said afterwards. ‘But when he got into the break he said that he felt good and so for a while we hoped things would work out okay.’
With the Irish team not chasing, Irish county squads Dublin Iarnród Eireann and Dublin Skip started working at the head of the bunch. Both had contenders who missed the break, namely Paul Griffin and Paddy Moriarty. Yet despite the assistance of a couple of riders from the Swedish team, the greater horsepower up front meant that the gap continued to soar.
After fifty-four miles the break reached the first category slopes of Ballagh Hill and here the Kazakh duo Maxim Iglinskiv and Andrey Medyannikov raced clear. Both were well down overall and of no threat to the other contenders, and so they were given a little leeway in their move. The duo worked well together and opened a lead of one minute and twenty seconds before the start of the day’s climb, the feared one-in-four legbreaker Mamore Gap. With the rest of the Team Ireland – Irish Sports Council squad over three minutes behind, hopes were high that O’Loughlin could go clear of the other contenders and take yellow. But he slipped back dramatically on the early slopes and blew.
Instead, it was Newton was the one who made the crucial move on the savage climb. Striking out early on, he raced up through the cheering throng of spectators and dropped the other riders. Climbing powerfully, he closed up to the Kazakh pair and finally made contact on the following ascent of Pinch Hill. The Swede Tobias Lergard also made it across, and together the four plunged down to the finish in Buncrana.
Lergard and Newton started the day with the same time, but the former was better placed due to his points total. If he was to take yellow, it was vital that the Englishman could gain an advantage before the line. Here the world track points Newton showed his speed, bursting clear in the final three hundred metres with a great surge and grabbing both stage and jersey. Iglinskiv was a second slower, while Medyannikov and Lergard were five down. Best of the Irish for the second day running was Eugene Moriaty, who led in a small group to finish seventh, one minute and fifteen seconds down, while Evans came in six minutes in arrears. But the big shock was the time lost by Power and O’Loughlin, who finished together seventeen minutes down, well behind several Irish county riders on the stage.
And so their FBD Milk Rás dream is over, three days from the end, and just a few hours after it seemed like they were in an ideal position. This morning the squad had three riders who looked like potential winners; now, Evans is five minutes and thirty-three seconds back in ninth. Power and O’Loughlin are twentieth and twenty-first overall.
It is an utterly unexpected turnaround for the team. Last year Chris Newton led, but lost yellow before the end of the race. This time around, he has turned the tables on the Team Ireland squad and now holds the lead going into tomorrow’s mountainous stage to Donegal.
‘I came into this race with form that was no-where near that of last year, but as the week has gone on I have got stronger,’ he said. ‘I was just trying to duck and dive (into moves) at the start of the week but felt strong today. I knew I had to go hard from the bottom of the climb if I was to do serious damage and so attacked hard once we got onto the slopes. The Danish guy got onto my wheel but had a very big gear on, and so he couldn’t react when I went for it towards the top.’
‘I’d like to try to keep the jersey. There are three days left to go, and anything can happen. But I will ride as best as I can.’ Given the stomping display he put on today, few will doubt that he is capable of going all the way.
Another who was happy was Eugene Moriaty, who showed great form today. ‘I was actually planning an easy day, as I was very tired from being up the road yesterday. But it worked out differently. After the first KOH I get away with an American rider from the Sportsbook.com professional team. I then saw a South African attacking and was just in the right position to get across to his wheel. When the big group came across to us I thought that I was finished, but took it easy in the break and gradually felt better. I tapped through for a while but suffered a lot on the first category climb. Later on, though, I got over Mamore okay.’
‘My legs were definitely stronger towards the end. I climbed well and couldn’t believe my legs when I was sprinting for the finish. I think the difference is that I haven’t actually raced a whole lot this year…I did some racing in Australia and in America, but also had to take a lot of March off as I had a virus. I think that freshness is helping me now.’
If Moriaty had a good day, Team Ireland manager Frankie Campbell had one he will want to forget. ‘It is really unfortunate how things worked out. With three guys up there it looked like we would get something from it, but that is not the way things happened. David punctured, Ciarán punctured and Andrew punctured in the first fifteen miles. Ciarán and Tommy just missed getting across to the move…they were marked quite a bit during the early part of the stage and that group managed to get away from them. David was up there and while he was sick last night, he said he felt okay once he was in the break. But as time went on he felt weaker, and when he hit the bottom of the climb he didn’t have anything left.’
‘Tommy (Evans) is the most annoyed. He thought we had a very strong chance. We played the game all week of having three guys in it, but unfortunately it didn’t work out that way today.’
And so Newton is at the top with three days left. Tomorrow’s 104 mile stage has four climbs, including the tough category one ascent of Glengesh, but many – including Great Britain manager John Herety – believe that the team should be strong enough to defend. The Bianchi Scandinavia team of Tobias Lergard will, however, be doing their utmost to make sure this isn’t the case.
FBD Milk Ras stage five, Letterkenny - Buncrana: 1, Chris Newton (Great Britain) 90.6 miles in 3 hours 24 mins 46 secs; 2, M. Iglinskiv (Kazakhstan) at 1 sec; 3, A. Medyannikov (Kazakhstan) at 5 secs; 4, T. Lergard (Bianchi Scandinavia - Sweden) same time; 5, M. Lovatt (Lancaster Life Repair) at 38 secs; 6, A. Hojgaard (Denmark Jylland-Fyn) same time; 7, E. Moriarty (Meath Lee Strand Cycleways) at 1 min 15 secs; 8, Y. Barker (Wales Stena Line); 9, H. Haynes (England North West); 10, J. Tanner (Lancaster Life Repair) all same time
King of the Mountains Primes: Category 3, Maghera: 1, Jaaron Poad (Team Down Under – Australia) 5 points; 2, D. Spence (HSBC), 4; 3, M. Larsen (Denmark Jylland-Fyn), 3
Category 3, Bradagh: 1, Iglinskiv, 5; 2, Lovatt, 4; 3, Madyannikov, 3
Category 1, Ballagh Hill: 1, Iglinskiv, 15; 2, Madyannikov, 12; 3, J. Beck (Sportsbook.com – USA), 10
Category 1, Mamore: 1, Iglinskiv, 15; 2, Medyannikov, 12; 3, Newton, 10
Category 3, Pinch Hill: 1, Inglinskiv, 5; 2, Medyannikov, 4; 3, Newton, 3
Cuchulann Crystal county rider: Moriarty
Cottar Hoose category 2: Fergal Kelly (Wicklow Sahara)
International team: Kasakhstan
County team: Meath Lee Strand Cycleways
Overall standings: 1, Newton, 19 hours 44 mins 3 secs; 2, Lergard, at 5 secs; 3, Hojgaard, at 12 secs; 4, Lovatt, at 38 secs; 5, P. Manning (Great Britain) at 1 min 15 secs; 6, Tanner; 7, Haynes, both same time; 8, I. McLeod (HSBC South Africa) at 2 mins 9 secs; 9, Evans, at 5 mins 33 secs; 10, T. Lovkvist (Bianchi Scandinavia – Sweden) at 6 mins 2 secs
Points: 1, Jonas Holmkvist (Bianchi Scandinavia – Sweden) 45 points; 2, A. Bazayev (Kazakhstan) 40; 3, Moriarty, 35
Mountains: 1, Maxim Iglinskiv, 45; 2, Medyannikov, 38; 3, Newton, 19
International team: Great Britain
County team: Meath Lee Strand Cycleways
Under 23: Lovkvist
Category 2: Tom Greene (Kildare Newbridge)