ProTour team CSC took the Tour of Ireland by the scruff of its neck on the hilly stage two of the race, putting almost all their team on the front for the last 35 kilometres to ensure a bunch sprint and test the real strength of overall leader Stijn Vandenbergh (Unibet.com).
Sure enough, CSC got what they wanted – but only in part. After Danny Pate (Slipstream) tried and failed to go clear in the final kilometres, CSC rider Matti Breschel took a bunch sprint of 40 riders in Killarney with a classy final dash for the line. Second was Norway?s Edvald Boassan (Maxbo), with T-Mobile rider Bernhard Eisel of Austria in third.
However, Vandenbergh was amongst the 40, and showed no signs of crumpling inside the Danish-made pressure cooker. Despite puncturing just as things were hotting up on the first category Healey pass, he made his way back up to the front group with impressive ease.
The race effectively split apart, as expected, as things were building up for the Healy pass, some 60 kilometres from the finish. 50 riders broke off the front in the rolling terrain before the Healy, and with Moll?s Gap, a second cat. ascent, coming almost immediately afterwards, CSC were on a roll, keeping the pace high all the way to the finish.
Best British finisher was Kristian House. The Navigators rider formed part of a strong two-man break alongside Gordon McCauley (Plowman Craven – Evans Cycles) over the Healy pass but was still able to placed a more than respectable fifth in the final sprint.
Adam Bonser (recycling.co.uk) also managed to hold the fast pace of the last hour, coming home in 30th spot – a good ride by the 19-year-old first year pro.
Stage three from Tralee to Ennis is 194 kilometres long, and with just one third category climb, will almost certainly end in a bunch sprint.
Tour of Ireland stage two: Clonakilty – Killarney 166km
1 Matti Breschel (Den) CSC 3-57-07
2 Edvald Boasson (Nor) Maxbo
3 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) T-Mobile Team
4 Borut Bozic (Slo) LPR
5 Kristian House (GBr) Navigators
6 Moises Aldape Chaves (Mex) Panaria
7 Daniel Lloyd (GBr) DFL
8 Martijn Maaskant (Ned) Rabobank Continental
9 Matteo Priamo (Ita) Panaria
10 Valeriy Kobzarenko (Ukr) Navigators all st
1 Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Unibet.com 7-58-57
2 Marcus Ljungqvist (Swe) CSC at 20sec
3 Aaron Olson (USA) T-Mobile at 21sec
4 Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) South Australia.com at 24sec
5 Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Maxbo at 25sec
6 Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Unibet.com at 27sec
7 Valeriy Kobzarenko (Ukr) Navigators at 28sec
8 Craig Lewis (USA) Slipstream at st
9 Glenn Bak (Den) Murphy & Gunn at 43sec
10 Matti Breschel (Den) CSC at 13-15