Young New Zealand cyclists Shane Archbold and Aaron Gate have claimed two jerseys at the An Post Ras Tour of Ireland that finished in the seaside town of Skerries near Dublin today.
Archbold (Timaru), the world track silver medallist, took out the sprinter’s points competition while Aaron Gate (Auckland) won the honour of the tour’s best under-23 rider.
The BikeNZ under-23 team supported by Trek International competed as part of their European road campaign towards preparations for next year’s Olympic track preparations. They enjoyed a successful time in Ireland’s major cycling tour that covered 1247 kilometres in eight days with 28 categorised climbs.
“Last year we rode here and got one third placing on a stage,” said Archbold. “This time there’s been a lot of good placings by the team. We’ve all ridden out of our skins to be honest.
“We’ve been on the podium pretty much every day and we had stage wins, seconds, fourths, jerseys most days – we’ve had a pretty good week.”
Today’s lumpy 133km stage from Kildare to Skerries produced a break that stayed clear for the first time on the tour with the peloton coming up just short to catch Ireland’s Dave McCan who soloed to win in front of a boisterous partisan crowd.
Archbold benefitted from an excellent lead-out by Southland-based Marlborough rider Cameron Karwowski to win the peloton sprint for second place. The 22 year old Timaru rider cleaned up the key sprint points today to claim the green jersey comfortably as his main challenger, Lithuania’s Gediminas Bagdonas focussed on his lead for the tour yellow jersey.
Gate recovered from a puncture just 12kms from the finish but recovered well on the final climb to finish near the front in the bunch sprint to ensure he took out the under-23 honours.
Archbold had risked his sprint title with his bold attack in yesterday’s penultimate stage when he came up just short in his challenge for the overall tour lead.
“A lot of directors here thought I was pretty crazy to do what I did yesterday. But I have never been in the position to win the yellow jersey in a UCI Tour. For the first few kilometres I had good legs so I thought I would have a wee nudge.
“I felt great and got some good help and I was leader of the Tour for nearly 100kms. It didn’t quite come off and I suffered for the last 20kms but I thought it was worth a go. I had to have a go.
“During that stage I did a lot of PBs in terms of my power output. I’ve never gone close to the numbers I produced which was encouraging. I didn’t sleep very well but I felt not too bad today and it was a very fast stage.
“I won the bunch sprint which I am happy about but unfortunately there was a rider up the road. I came here to win a stage so to get three seconds is a bit disappointing.”
Archbold puts his improvement down to plain hard work.
“I finished the track worlds and I was very happy with the medal. I only had four days off the bike. I had six weeks of slog and then six weeks of racing to prepare for this and our main goal which is the tour in Germany in two weeks. I wanted to keep stepping forward and make gains towards London.
“The power I have produced is a good step forward but it’s still small steps at this stage.”
He said the week has been a real success overall for the under-23 squad.
“Myron winning the stage was just outstanding. Cam, for a young strong guy, rode really well and today’s result for me was down to his lead out. With Aaron winning the white jersey – overall we have done well and we have all pretty stoked.”
The team has a one day race next weekend before the International Thüringen Rundfahrt, considered among the top under-23 cycling tours of the year.
Ras Tour of Ireland, Stage 8, 133km Kildare to Skerries: Dave McCann (IRL, Asia Giant Kenda) 2:58:57, 1; Shane Archbold (NZL) at 14 sec, 2; Dean Winsor (AUS, Britain Rapha) same time, 3. Also New Zealanders: Cameron Karwowski same time, 30; Aaron Gate same time, 34; Myron Simpson same time, 45.
General classification: Gediminas Bagdonas (LTU, An Post Sean Kelly) 30:39:48, 1; Anatoliy Pakhtusovukr (Ukraine Lampre) at 32s, 2; Sheydyk Oleksandr (Ukraine Lampre) at 1:13, 3. Also: Gate at 1:31, 6; Archbold at 2:21, 10; Karwowski at 29:02, 31; Simpson at 36:39, 38.
Under 23: Gate 30:41:19, 1; Archbold at 50s, 2; S Downey (IRE) at 1:43, 3. Also: Karwowski at 27:31, 7; Simpson at 35:08, 9.
Points: Archbold 70, Bagdonas 53 points, 1; E Brenterch (GER) 48, 3.