Bevin tightens grip on Rás yellow jersey with second stage win in three days

Race leader reels in breakaway with excellent solo effort to bridge gap to leading group

Patrick Bevin, New Zealand National Team, crosses the line ahead of Marcin Bialoblocki, Velosure Giordana. Photograph: Ramsey Cardy

Patrick Bevin, New Zealand National Team, crosses the line ahead of Marcin Bialoblocki, Velosure Giordana. Photograph: Ramsey Cardy

 

For those rivals who hoped that Patrick Bevin’s early leadership of the An Post Rás would lead to cracks in his defence later on, there was first hope and then discouragement on the toughest stage thus far.

Starting a team-mate down after Marc Ryan was forced out due to illness, Bevin and his team were quickly on the back foot when a dangerous break of 12 riders went clear shortly after the 60km point.

Present were three Irish men, namely Ronan McLaughlin (Donegal Inishowen Gateway McCafe), Eugene Moriarty (Dublin North Team 39 Spin 11) and Patrick Clarke (Mayo South Centra) but, more seriously for Bevin, also the rider who started the day in third place overall, Alessandro Pettiti (Italy Team Idea 2010 ASD).

He was one minute 55 seconds behind the yellow jersey and when the break opened its lead to two minutes, became the race leader on the road. Cue a spirited effort from Bevin on the day’s last of 10 climbs, the first category Coomanaspic.

Up front, Pettiti made his bid for success, going over the summit ahead of An Post Chainreaction Sean Kelly rider Owain Doull and joining forces with him on the descent to try to maintain their lead. Bevin was over a minute back at that point, but caught the leaders 3km before the finish.

Spirited performance Adrenaline racing and his morale up after eliminating the danger, he then sprinting home first into Cahirciveen, beating last year’s race winner Marcin Bialoblocki (Britain Velosure Giordana), Peter Williams (France Bretagne Velotec), Matteo Collodel (Italy Team Idea 2010 ASD) and 28 others. It was his second stage win in three days and underlined the grip he has on the race.

“It was a really tough day. That climb was really hard. I didn’t have good legs . . . I did a lot of work early on. We were short-handed,” he said.

“I paid for it on the climb, but I was always racing to the finish line. I knew it was still 20km to go from the top.”

Bevin admitted that he was concerned when Pettiti and the other riders opened a two-minute gap, but said he told his team-mates to do what they could and then gave it everything himself. “I had my work cut out . . . but you just have to do what you can.”

Bevin said that he was surprised to get right back up to the front, and even more so to take the stage. Momentum is clearly on his side and this will demoralise his opponents who hoped that his team would crack on such a tough day.

Peter Hawkins (Britain Madison Genesis) was best of the Irish riders in 10th and is now 12th overall, two minutes and 26 seconds back. He and the other contenders will try again on today’s fifth stage to Clonakilty, knowing their only chance is to keep throwing everything at Bevin and his NZ team.

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