After six days, the Irish finally got a home stage win in the Ras thanks to Paul Healion of the national team.
Healion has been a regular feature in the sprints this week and his consistency and perseverance paid off as he escaped in the final stages, leading the sprint from a long way out and holding off Jaan Kirsipuu (Giant-Veoila) and double stage-winner, Nicholas Walker (Cinelli-Down Under).
Simon Richardson’s (Rapha Condor) yellow jersey remained on his shoulders, but it was threatened early on in the 159km stage from Scariff to Castlebar.
Erstwhile race-leader Ian Wilkinson (Halfords Bikehut) escaped in an early move with Laurent Didier (Designa Kokken) and was soon joined by two others.
The grouped gained an advantage of around half a minute over the peloton, but at just 3-29 down on the race lead, Wilkinson was deemed too much of a threat to the break’s chances and was presumably told to drop back.
With the break rid of Wilkinson, their lead had extended to around two and a half minutes, but Rapha and Kuota took control swiftly bringing it back.
With the Trek Marco Polo team cooperating at the front, it was only ever going to come down to a bunch sprint with such a flat day in the saddle.
Leading out from a long way, Healion took the first home win of the race whilst Richardson finished safely in the bunch and looks increasingly likely of taking the race overall.
ALL ACCORDING TO PLAN FOR RAPHA
For Rapha, the day’s proceedings went exactly according to plan once again.
“We were on the front from start to finish,” explained team manager, John Herety.
“There were a number of attacks and we kept tagging them. We were actually quite happy to let Wilkinson have his day in the break, but the rest of the break didn’t want him there so it wasn’t to be.
“I would have preferred Wilkinson to have tired himself out in the break, which would have made things easier for us for the rest of the race, but I’m quite happy with today’s performance.”
Whilst Herety was full of praise for his team, he also had words for some who suggested that the team’s control of the race was down to little more than luck.
“We got no help from any of the other teams [in taking the jersey] and to suggest otherwise is just [nonsense],” said Herety.
STAGE SIX RESULTS:
1. Paul Healion (Irish National Team)
2. Jaan Kirsipuu (Giant-Veoila)
3. Nicholas Walker (Cinelli-Down Under)
4. Niko Eeckhout (An Post Sean Kelly)
5 Kasper Jebjerg (Designa Kokken)
6. Jaco Venter (Trek Marco Polo)
7. Joachim Tolles (Kuota-Indeland)
8. Russ Downing (CandiTV Marshalls Pasta)
9. Sam Bennett (Dan Morrissey)
10. Mark McNally (Halfords Bike Hut)
1. Simon Richardson (Rapha Condor)
FBD Insurance Ras: The Big Preview
Official race website: www.fbdinsuranceras.com
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