Conn McDunphy wins stage two of the Rás Tailteann

Dom Jackson takes the yellow jersey but finds himself on the same time as McDunphy and Liam O’Brien

Irish riders swooped on stage two of the Rás Tailteann on Thursday, with Conn McDunphy (USA: Skyline-Cadence) and Liam O’Brien (Team Ireland) putting in a superb attack towards the end of the race to Sneem and finishing in that order.

Team Ireland rider O’Brien made his move just after the day’s penultimate ascent, the category two Coomakista, and was reinforced by McDunphy. They collaborated for much of the remaining 42 kilometres, although McDunphy backed off in advance of the sprint.

“Me and Liam kind of rolled off the front with maybe 40K to go,” said McDunphy. “He’s an animal. I was giving everything I could, and I told him that. It was kind of even enough, and he was pulling hard on the uphills, to be fair to him.

“Then once we came onto the circuit, I had a good feeling that I might be able to get him. I told him we’d give it everything. And then with 3k to go, I sat on. I kind of played the game, then came around him with 50 metres to go.”


O’Brien was disappointed with second. “I got played a bit. With four K to go he pulled the plug working. I was probably the strongest, but when it’s one on one, it’s hard to get away, because you only have to follow one person.”

The 18-year-old rides for the Lidl-Trek Future Racing team, the feeder squad to the Lidl-Trek WorldTour outfit, and finished a superb third overall in the Flèche du Sud earlier this month.

Overnight race leader Alex Pritchard (Richardsons Trek DAS) came under pressure on the tough climbs along the 183.8 kilometres from Kanturk, with the first category Ballaghasheen and second category Coomakista causing havoc.

Also slipping back was Irishman Paul Kennedy, second overall and guesting for the same USA: Skyline-Cadence team as McDunphy. The rider who was third in the general classification, Dom Jackson (UK: Foran CT) did a lot of riding in the chase group behind McDunphy and O’Brien, and finished in the 16-man chase group led in 32 seconds later by defending Rás champion Dillon Corkery (Team Ireland).

Jackson ended the day on precisely the same time as O’Brien and McDunphy, but got the yellow jersey by virtue of better accumulated stage placings.

“The whole stage was brutally hard,” the Briton said. “And maybe because I was in the break yesterday, I just felt so much fatigue in my legs.

“With about 30k to go I was confident the pipe dream of maybe being in yellow was gone. My teammate had completely worked himself over to try and make it happen, and everyone in that group knew what I did yesterday and just weren’t prepared to work with me at all.

“The gap just grew and grew and grew. And then on the final hill, people were just rolling insane attacks up it. I was like the last rider to crest over that hill, and then the descent was stupid fast.

“I don’t know if there’s any footage of it, but you’ll see me absolutely swinging on the back of the group trying to get past the finish line. I’m just super happy to be in this jersey.”

British-based Irishman George Peden (UK: Team PB Performance) was third on the stage, 30 seconds back, and will begin Friday’s flatter 154.8km race from Kenmare to Cahir fourth overall.

Anything could happen on the remaining three stages, but for now Jackson, O’Brien and McDunphy are locked on the same time with everything to gain from attacking.

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes is a contributor to The Irish Times writing about cycling