Niko Eeckhout (An Post-M.Donnelly-Grant Thornton-Sean Kelly) has won the opening stage of the 2009 FBD Insurance Ras in Ireland.
The 2006 Belgian road race champion took the bunch sprint from Britain's Russell Downing (CandiTV-Marshalls Pasta) in Wexford. Australian Nicholas Walker (Cinelli-Down Under) completed the podium positions in third.
Eeckhout will wear the yellow race leader's jersey going in to Monday's 178km stage from Wexford to Cobh. The UCI 2.2-ranked race comprises of eight stages running from Sunday May 17 to Sunday May 24.
Stage one: Kilcullen - Wexford, 125km
1. Niko Eeckhout (Belgium) An Post-M.Donnelly-Grant Thornton-Sean Kelly in 2-53-10
2. Russell Downing (GB) Candi TV-Marshalls Pasta
3. Nicholas Walker (Australia) Cinelli-Down Under
4. Daniel Clifford (Ireland) Projector World
5. Jaan Kirsipuu (Norway) Giant-Veolia
6. Joachim Tolles (Germany) Kuota-Indeland
7. Sam Bennett (Ireland) Dan Morrissey
8. Philip Lavery (Ireland) KTM Winning Solutions
9. Ian Wilkinson (GB) Halfords Bike Hut all same time.
FBD Insurance Ras: The Big Preview
Official race website: www.fbdinsuranceras.com
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