Ireland’s Matthew Teggart of the An Post Chain Reaction team put in a magnificent ride to take a hard fought victory on stage three of An Post Rás today in to Bundoran, Donegal.
The Banbridge born rider won a bunch sprint to the line narrowly ahead of Ian Bibby (Britain JLT Condor) and Stephane Poulhies (France Armee de Terre) who finished second and third respectively. Dutch rider Dennis Bakker (Delta Cycling Rotterdam) took fourth place, and as a result becomes the new race leader.
Today’s route from Newport to Bundoran was the final flat day of racing before the peloton face the gruelling mountainous landscape around Donegal in the coming three days.
With numerous breakaways reeled in from the get go yesterday, today was a different story. From the off, a break of nine riders instantly went clear and were soon joined by nine chasers on the 15 kilometre mark. The 18 man group featured no less than seven Irish riders; Damien Shaw, Sean McKenna and Teggart (An Post Chain Reaction), Robert-Jon McCarthy (Britain JLT Condor), Anthony Walsh (Cork Aqua Blue Sport), Philip Lavery (Tipperary Panduit) and Jake Gray (Ireland National Team).
The break cooperated well together, establishing a one minute 30 second lead over an eight man chasing group, which included Irish riders Darragh O’Mahony (Ireland National Team), Simon Ryan (Cork Strata3 / Velo Revolution), Daire Feeley (Galway Team iTap) and Sean Yelverton (Tipperary Panduit). Shaw was the aggressor at the front of the break, taking the sole An Post Prime of the day in Enniscrone, Sligo on the 60 kilometre mark.
Gradually the chasers began to reduce the deficit on the break and their work was rewarded when they merged with the leaders in Easkey with 70 kilometres to go, making it a bunch of 26 riders out front. At this point, the main field, featuring yellow jersey Brochner Nielsen, was lagging behind by a massive 4 minutes 45 seconds.
A ferocious pace at the front split the lead break in half with Shaw, Teggart, Bibby, Ryan, Lavery, Bakker, Poulhies, James Gullen (Britain JLT Condor) George Atkins (Britain Bike Channel Canyon), Ellliot Porter (Britain Neon Velo Cycling), Troels Ronning Vinther and Jonas Jorgensen (Denmark Riwal Platform), Ike Groen (Delta Cycling Rotterdam) and Ziga Rucigaj (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana), forming the lead.
With five kilometres to go, the lead break held a 50 second gap over the 13 chasers with the winner now certain to come from that group. With 300 metres to go coming in to the main street in Bundoran, Teggart jumped early, digging deep to stay ahead and cross the line for a memorable win.
It was Teggart’s first race after recovering from a broken elbow and he was overjoyed to get his first Rás stage victory:
“It’s an absolute honour to even ride the Rás never mind win a stage. The boys played an absolute blinder today. Damien and Sean pretty much sacrificed themselves for me. This is my first race back from injury so I’m over the moon with the result.”
Following today’s action, Bakker now leads the race and also holds the Green, Points jersey and the King of the Mountains jersey. It was a superb day for the Irish with Lavery, O’Mahony, Shaw and McKenna finishing in the top ten on the stage. Teggart’s performance puts him atop of the Under-23 classification and Lavery’s sixth place finish means he wears the county rider jersey.