Irishman Connor McConvey agonisingly close to taking Rás yellow jersey

Marcin Bialoblocki retains lead despite finishing 12th in Mitchelstown

The peleton crosses the bridge in Kealkill, Co Cork, during stage 5 of the An Post Rás from Glengarriff to Mitchelstown. Photograph: Sportsfile

The peleton crosses the bridge in Kealkill, Co Cork, during stage 5 of the An Post Rás from Glengarriff to Mitchelstown. Photograph: Sportsfile

Fri, May 24, 2013, 02:00

Striking hard with four kilometres to go and catching the race leader napping, Irishman Connor McConvey went agonisingly close to taking the yellow jersey in the An Post Rás in Mitchelstown yesterday.

The Azerbaijain Synergy Baku team rider attacked with Rasmus Guldhammer (Denmark Blue Water Cycling) with four kilometres left in the 150.2km stage, opening an eight-second gap over the panicking leader Marcin Bialoblocki (Britain UK Youth Pro Cycling).

Both had started the day level on time with the Polish rider, and were huge threats.

Belgian national team rider Moreno De Pauw was also present in the three-man move and won the uphill sprint to the line, seizing the stage win. Guldhammer and McConvey finished second and third but, crucially, Belgium An Post Chainreaction Seán Kelly rider Nicholas Vereecken led in the main bunch immediately behind the latter two, closing the time gap in his bid for the stage win.

Bialoblocki was 12th and thus held onto the jersey, but very nearly lost it. He played down the matter afterwards. “It was a very nice day, an easy day. My team-mates worked for me with the Blue Water guys and a few others [in controlling an earlier break],” he said. “It was a good day.”

McConvey and Guldhammer will be clear in how close they went to overtaking Bialoblocki, and will try again as soon as possible. “Today is probably the real first day we went on the offensive, in terms of getting rid of Marcin,” said a motivated McConvey.

“And that is the way we kind of need to do it. Up until yesterday it was all about just remaining in contention and not letting anything happen. But the way the cards were dealt today, me and Guldhammer made a good effort and got away. We were really, really close to pulling it off. If the Belgian guy had done a little more work we would have had a time gap.”

Tightly controlled
Until those final four kilometres things looked to be tightly controlled. The Kiwi rider Shane Archbold (An Post Chainreaction Seán Kelly), who won stage two and had been in second overall until a mechanical problem on Wednesday, attacked 40kms into the stage with Michael Northey (Britain Node4 Giordana)

They opened a maximum lead of over two and a half minutes and thus saw Archbold become race leader on the road. However steady riding by the teams of Bialoblocki and Guldhammer kept things under control and the gap was gradually whittled down.

Archbold forged on alone with 23kms left, but was caught by Alexander Schrangl (Austria Arbo Gebruder Weiss) and Thomas Lavery (Waterford Comeragh). These two pushed on ahead but were reeled in nine kilometres from the line. McConvey and Guldhammer then made their move five kilometres later.

“We were so close to making a difference,” said McConvey, who previously finished fourth and seventh in the race. “It could happen anywhere.”

The race continues today with a 155km stage from Mitchelstown to Carlow. It includes five categorised climbs inside the final 50kms. McConvey sees these as presenting real opportunity.

“I believe the final part of the stage is on real racing roads. It could make him exposed, we’ll try to catch him out tactically.”