Mid-Canterbury cyclist Shane Archbold outsprinted the peloton to finish third in today’s sixth stage of The Ras cycle tour in Ireland.
The young rider is part of the BikeNZ track squad who are racing in Europe as part of their endurance training towards the Commonwealth Games.
His team-mates Aaron Gate, Wes Gough and Marc Ryan were also safely in the peloton for today’s 127km to from Carrick On Suir to Gorey that included six categorised climbs.
Two riders broke away in the final club with Germany’s John Degenkolb winning from early leader Dan Craven (Namibia) with Archbold producing a superb sprint to burst away from the more than 50-strong peloton for third place.
Ryan remains the best of the kiwis in 21st place, 4m 48s down on leader Alexander Wetterhall who remains just eight seconds clear of Josef Kugler.
Some excellent work from Ryan put Archbold in the right position with 1km to go to use his track strength and speed to convincingly win the bunch sprint.
“I’m ecstatic to get a podium result here for the team in our first race of this campaign,” Archbold said. “It’s given me a heap of confidence as we move towards our main target of Thuringen Rundfhart in Germany in two weeks time.
“I was feeling very tired and lethargic before the stage and after the mechanical, I was definitely looking for a gruppetto (group behind the peloton of non-climbers) to be formed on the first category climb,” Archbold said.
“I was surprised but happy to find myself in the front group over the climb and concentrated on conserving my sprinting legs over the last three smaller climbs.
“After ‘Dream’ dropped me off with good position with 1km to go, I tagged onto the back of the German Thuringer team. I went with about 250m to go and it was slightly uphill but I knew I had to go so I didn’t get swamped by the bunch”.
There was plenty of work for the support crew in the tough day with seven category climbs, with Archbold suffering early mechanical problems and Gough making it back into the bunch after a crash.
Tomorrow’s penultimate stage is a 154km run from Gory to Kilcullen with four category climbs.
Overall classification, The Ras Tour, Ireland after five stages:
Alexander Wetterhall (SWE – Team Sprocket Pro) 17:46.18, 1; Josef Kugler (NED – KTM) at 8 seconds, 2; Peter Williams (GBR – Motorpoint Pasta) at 59s, 3.
New Zealanders: Marc Ryan at 4:48, 21; Wes Gough at 9:13, 37; Shane Archbold at 17:08, 52; Aaron Gate at 21:12, 55.