Dan Lloyd topped a dominant performance by his Belgian based An Post-M Donelly-Grant Thornton-Sean Kelly team by winning the five-day Vuelta Extremadura in Spain on Sunday.
The team led from the start by winning the 22 kilometre team time trial prologue by over 30 seconds, and were never bettered.
Irish rider Paidi O?Brien wore the yellow jersey for the second stage but then it passed to the shoulders of team mate Benny De Schrooder of Belgium. On the fourth stage the team came under constant attack from the Spanish teams and Boavista, a strong squad from Portugal that contained many experienced riders who have ridden the Tour of Spain.
Lloyd?s team mate and fellow Brit, Dan Fleeman was in the thick of the action all day. ?Dan and I got in a break of 16, but Boavista put every rider on the front and brought it back. They then started attacking Benny and we had to counter every move, but towards the end they let a group get away and Dan was in it. He managed to get 36 seconds and took the jersey,? said Fleeman, who finished 10th overall.
The Irish team had another torrid time on the final stage with Boavista and the Spaniards desperately trying to get one of their men away. ?It was chaotic,? says Fleeman. Every day we tried to let a break form and bring it back close to the finish, so everything was controlled, but on this day it didn?t seem to happen. We just had Boavista trying to split it all day.?
Fleeman and co did manage to control the day, and Lloyd ran out the winner. ?I?m ecstatic,? he told us straight after the finish. ?I couldn?t have done it without the team though,? he added.
Lloyd’s victory in this international UCI 2.2 ranked race comes on top of a fine sixth place in the Vuelta Cinturion and ninth in the very tough GP Pino Cerami, and will not have done Lloyd?s Olympic hopes any harm. He has already been told that he is one of the riders being looked at for a place in the road race.