Aaron Gate of An Post Chain Reaction sprinted to a magnificent stage six An Post Rás win in Dungarvan today. Nicolai Brochner (Denmark Riwal Platform) and Matt Holmes (Britain Madison Genesis) took second and third respectively in a 42-man sprint finish. Damien Shaw (An Post Chain Reaction) finished with the first bunch to maintain third place on general classification.
Today’s 159.1 kilometre route, which started from Clonakilty, was relatively flat in comparison to previous stages featuring just three category three climbs of Windygap, Rathcormack, and Knockroe.
Relentless attacks from Irish National Team rider, Eddie Dunbar began early in the day as he pulled away with a slight lead. Dylan Kennett (New Zealand National Team) and Daire Feeley (Galway Team Itap) however, were unwilling to let the Irishman go and bridged the gap to form a three man lead group.
Dunbar ferociously pressured his rivals, breaking free numerous times and was first over the ascent of Windy Gap but the pair consistently reeled him in. With 42 kilometres conquered, the trio built an impressive four minute 30 second lead and maintained an unrelenting pace through Donoghmore and in to Mallow.
Yellow jersey leader, Clemens Fankhauser (Austria Tirol Cycling) and his teammates, alongside the teams of Madison Genesis and Australia were in dogged pursuit, chipping away to close the gap. Coming up to the final climb of Knockroe with 40 kilometres to go, the bunch swallowed up Kennett, who was struggling to maintain the pace and then subsequently the two Irishmen.
Intense jockeying at the recapture saw three new riders; Josh Edmondson (Britain NFTO Pro Cycling), James Gullen (Britain Pedal Heaven) and Taco van der Hoorn (Netherlands Join-S De Rijke) emerge to the front and establish a 40 second gap ten kilometres outside of Dungarvan. The latter two had both clinched stage wins earlier in the week and were in eager pursuit of the yellow jersey.
Within sight of the finish line, the three were caught, while Aaron Gate delivered a lung busting effort to seal the stage victory in a time of three hours, 47 minutes, 53 seconds. Gate’s victory moves him into fifth place in the overall GC just five seconds behind race leader Fankhauser while his An Post Chain Reaction teammate, Shaw sits only two seconds back.
Delighted to finally clinch a stage win, Gate was quick to applaud his An Post Chain Reaction teammates for playing their part in the victory.
“The boys did such an awesome job today and I can’t thank them enough for the win. We’ve got a strong team and we’re all riding really well. But the race definitely isn’t over yet. Tomorrow will be a tough stage and a close battle for sure. Hopefully we can get the win again but I’d be happy to share the love with another An Post Chain Reaction Team rider.”
Fankhauser, winner of the 2014 An Post Rás, retains the yellow leaders’ jersey for the fourth consecutive day, with only two days of racing remaining.
On the podium again today was Jai Hindley (Australia National Team) who stays in the U23 Rider jersey and Ian Richardson (UCD Fitz Cycles) remains the best Irish County rider. Both riders have made their fourth appearance on the stage for this year’s race. Nikodemus Holler (Germany Stradalli Bike Aid) was named King of the Mountains for the third time and Gate once again retains the green points jersey.
Saturday’s penultimate stage will leave Dungarvan and head towards Baltinglass. The 155 kilometre trek will include three category three climbs as well as the daunting category one climb of Mount Leinster.
Regular updates on this year’s An Post Rás are available on www.anpostras.ie or twitter.com/anpostras