Nikolay Mihaylov (AVC Aix en Provence) outsprinted breakaway companion Oleksandr Sheydyk (ISD-Lampre Continental) to take stage three of the Rás in Castleisland this afternoon, as the race hit the tough climbs for the first time.
The two leaders finished 15 seconds ahead of a chase group of 10, with Motorpoint’s Pete Williams winning the sprint for third.
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Gediminas Bagdonas (An Post Sean Kelly) finished in sixth, and takes over the leader’s yellow jersey as a result.
Sedydyk and Mihaylov move up to second overall, both trailing Bagdonas by 1-16; Williams is a further 11 seconds in arrears in fourth with Sigma Sport-Specialized’s Simon Richardson 1-31 behind the leader in fifth.
Soon after the flag dropped in the start town of Kilrush, Richardson’s team-mate Steve Lampier was one of a handful of riders who tried to breakaway.
Owing to several attacks and a tailwind aiding the riders, the peloton covered 48km in the opening sixty minutes of racing.
With the pace so high, the bunch unsurprisingly split in half around the 55km mark, before a 12-man group formed the decisive break of the day.
Williams, along with fellow Motorpoint rider Will Bjergfelt and three others, managed to get across to the leaders, which swelled the group to 17.
The peloton soon fell over eight minutes back, but reduced their advantage to less than four minutes with 25km – and the first category climb of the Crag Cave – remaining.
Fight for the victory
Rapha-Condor-Sharp’s James McCallum made his bid for solo glory on the lower slopes of the climb, but his audacious move was doomed for failure.
Mihaylov and Sheydyk managed to break clear soon after, and despite the gallant attempts of several others to close them down, they contested the sprint for the victory.
The race continues with an 142km stage from Castleisland to Castletownbere tomorrow, with a first category climb and three second category climbs along the route.
An Post Rás stage three: Kilrush to Castleisland, 175km
1. Nikolay Mihaylov (AVC Aix en Provence) in 4-13-50
2. Oleksandr Sheydyk (ISD-Lampre Continental) at same time
3. Pete Williams (Motorpoint) at 15secs
4. Marcel Barth (Thuringer Energie)
5. Floris Goesinnen (Drapac Cycling)
6. Gediminas Bagdonas (An Post Sean Kelly)
7. Salvador Guardiola (KTM Murica)
8. Aaron Gate (New Zealand)
9. Simon Richardson (Sigma Sport-Specialized)
10. James McCallum (Rapha-Condor-Sharp) all at same time
General classification after three stages
1.Gediminas Bagdonas (An Post Sean Kelly) in 12-56-16
2. Oleksandr Sheydyk (ISD-Lampre Continental) at 1-16
3. Nikolay Mihaylov (AVC Aix en Provence) at same time
4. Peter Williams (Motorpoint) at 1-27
5. Simon Richardson (Sigma-Sport Specialized) at 1-31
6. Aaron Gate (New Zealand)
7. Floris Goesinnen (Drapac Cycling) all at same time
8. Shane Archbold (New Zealand) at 2-17
9. Stuart Shaw (Drapac Cycling) at 2-21
10. Anatoliy Pakhtusov (ISD-Lampre Continental) at same time