Russell Downing (Pinarello Canditv) won today's fourth stage of the 2008 Tour of Ireland in Dingle.
Former leader and triple stage winner Mark Cavendish (Columbia) lost contact with the lead group and dropped enough time on the category one Conor Pass to lose the overall race lead by the end of the stage.
Premier Calendar champion Downing sprinted out of the lead group to take the stage - a fantastic result given that he lost his chain on the final climb of the day and had to work hard to regain contact with the group.
Cavendish crashed heavily in yesterday's stage and there were doubts that he would start today. However, the Manx sprint specialist did make the start line but perhaps suffered as a result of his injuries.
With just one stage of the race left, it is now likely that Downing will hang on to the leader's jersey when the race finishes in Cork on Sunday (August 31).
TOUR OF IRELAND 2008: STAGE FOUR RESULTS
1. Russell Downing (GB) Pinarello Canditv 4h 19min 56secs
2. Gonzalo Rabunal (Spa) Karpin Galicia
3. Matt Wilson (Aus) Team Type 1
4. Simon Clarke (Aus) SouthAustralia.com
5. Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Tinkoff
6. Daniel Lloyd (GB) An Post-Sean Kelly
7. Johan Coenen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen
8. Nikolas Maes (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen
9. Julian Dean (NZ) Garmin-Chipotle
10. Lars Peter Nordhaug (Nor) Joker Bianchi all same time.
OVERALL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE FOUR
1. Russell Downing (GB) Pinarello Canditv in 18h 14min 54secs
2. Julian Dean (NZ) Garmin-Chipotle at 2secs
3. Matt Wilson (Aus) Team Type 1 at 11secs
4. Gonzalo Rabunal (Spa) Karpin Galicia at 12secs
5. Kurt Hovelijnck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen at 13secs
6. Daniel Lloyd (GB) An Post-Sean Kelly at 15secs
7. Simon Clarke (Aus) SouthAustralia.com at same time
8. Nikolas Maes (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen at 18secs
9. Valeriy Kobzarenko (Ukr) Team Type 1
10. Michael Barry (Can) Columbia all at same time.
Russell Downing gets ready for action
Russell Downing wins the stage
Russell Downing meets the press after his win
Pinarello Canditv celebrate today's success
Russell Downing pulls on the leader's jersey after a fine win
Photos by Andy Jones
TOUR OF IRELAND
Stage three report: Three in a row for Cavendish in Ireland
Stage two report: Cav does the double
Stage one report: Cavendish wins
Tour of Ireland preview
Tour of Ireland start list
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