It was a case of nearly but not quite for New Zealand cyclist Shane Archbold on the penultimate day of the An Post Ras Cycling Tour of Ireland today.
The Timaru rider, who briefly claimed the leader’s yellow jersey on the road, had been the main aggressor to lead a select bunch on a break that could have catapulted him into the lead in today 161km stage to Kildare, just south of Dublin.
In the end his bold move ran out of legs when he could taste the finish and had to be content with finishing in the pack.
While his daring challenge for the tour leader’s yellow jersey came up short, Archbold takes a three point lead into tomorrow’s final stage for the points competition for the green jersey.
Team-mate Aaron Gate finished in the peloton and will take a 50 second advantage over Archbold for honours as the leading under-23 rider into tomorrow’s stage.
Archbold attacked virtually from the start in Tramore and was joined with a select group that built up their lead to four minutes over the major climb after 60kms, but with 40kms remaining the gap was down to a minute.
Archbold decided to attack again but was brought back by the leading group of five until Ireland’s Martyn Irvine jumped off the front with 25kms remaining with two other riders. However the kiwi, who had done much of the work throughout, could not summons up another big effort. He was forced to sit up for the fast approaching peloton, pushed on by the An Post Sean Kelly team of the leader Gediminas Bagdonas from Lithuania.
Irvine, like Archbold an omnium track rider, went solo to hold off the advancing peloton by only 50 metres at the finish to claim the stage win.
Tomorrow’s final stage heads back north to Skerries covering 133kms with five category three climbs and two laps of a 13kms finishing loop of the town, with Archbold needing one more effort to ensure he can cover off the remaining sprint points to protect the green jersey.
The eight-day race includes 185 riders from 12 international teams along with a host of British and Irish teams battling over 1247 kilometres with 28 categorised climbs.
Ras Tour of Ireland, Stage 7, 161km Tramore to Kildare: Martyn Irvine (IRL) 3:40:39, 1; Ralf Matzka (GER) at 6 sec, 2; Riccio Bernardo (ITA) same time, 3. Also New Zealanders: Myron Simpson same time, 4; Aaron Gate same time, 23; Cameron Karwowski same time, 34; Shane Archbold at 17s, 51.
General classification: Gediminas Bagdonas (LTU, An Post Sean Kelly) 27:40:37, 1; Anatoliy Pakhtusov (Ukraine Lampre) at 32s, 2; Sheydyk Oleksandr (Ukraine Lampre) at 1:13, 3. Also: Gate at 1:31, 6; Archbold at 2:21, 12; Karwowski at 29:02, 32; Simpson at 36:39, 41.
Under 23: Gate 27:42:08, 1; Archbold at 50s, 2; S Downey (IRE) at 1:43, 3.