IN a gripping finale to the 232-kilometre stage four of the Tour of Ireland today,
Norway?s Edvald Hagen Boasson (Maxbo-Bianchi) 20, sprinted to victory in Galway, after the five man break which had led for 204 kilometres, was swept up in the final kilometres by the main bunch.
Second was Bernard Eisel (T-Mobile) and third Maximiliano Richeze (Ceramica Panaria), all in the same time of 5-53-23. Best British rider was Daniel Lloyd (DFL), 10th.
The longest, toughest stage of the race from Galway to Galway, was dominated by a brave five-man attack through the mist enshrouded Connemara Mountains.
Two men escaped the field as the race left the Galway start, soon to be joined by three others. They were Danny Pate (Slipstream), Roger Beauchat (LPR), Britain?s Rob Partridge (Recycling.co.uk), New Zealand?s Gordon McCauley (Plowman Craven) and Adam Bergman (Colavita-Sutter).
Their advantage slowly grew on the heavy roads on a route which included five climbs, including the first category Tourmakedy at 76.5 kilometres.
A crash in the main bunch at 158 kilometres saw the break?s advantage go out to over seven minutes.The pile up took out mountain?s leader Luis Pasamontes (Unibet), who was taken to hospital. He had already lost his overall lead on the road to Beuchat who took three of the five climbs.
However, with 190 kilometres covered and 40 to go, the peleton had closed to 3.30, the yellow jersey of race leader Stijn Vandenbergh close to the front.
An attack by Pate on the final climb at Keeagh after 203 kilometres split the five-man group, as Beauchat went with him.
The rest were swallowed by the chasing pack wih 22kilometres to go, but the McCauley’s efforts had not been entirely in fain, for he moved up 10 places in the mountain’s classification, to 2nd overall, as Beuchat took over the title from Luis Pasamontes (Unibet) who crashed out of the race.
Several attacks split the field in two, with Pate active to the last, trying to get away to the last.
A disappointed McCauley who took the sprint at Louisburgh (119km) said at the finish: ?The idea was to try and stay away to the finish. But we needed a bigger advantage than we had to pull it off. But you?ve got to try.?
Vandenberg retained his yellow jersey but fifth overall Gabriel Rasch (Maxbo-Bianchi) did not finish.
Stage four: Galway ? Galway 232km
1 E Boasson, Norway (Maxbo-Bianchi) 232km in 5-53-23
2 B. Eisel (T-Mobile)
3 M. Richeze (Pan)
4 B. Bozic (LPR)
5 B. Cooke (Unibet)
6 D. Colli (Pan)
7 M. Breschel (CSC)
8 S. Clarke (South Australia)
9 J. Bohler (Maxbo-Bianchi)
10 D. Lloyd (DFL), all st.
1 Stijn Vandenbergh, Belgium (Unibet) 18-13-31
2 M. Lungqvist (CSC) at 20sec
3 A. Olson (T-Mobile) at 21sec
Mountains.- R. Beuchat (LPR).
Sprints.- Hagen Boasson.
Official race site: www.tourofireland.ie.