Julian Varley wins penultimate stage of the Rás Tailteann

Best of Irish was Lindsay Watson in sixth, as Mark Dowling put in strong performance

Team KTM’s Julian Varley celebrates winning stage seven of the Ras Tailteann. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Team KTM’s Julian Varley celebrates winning stage seven of the Ras Tailteann. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

 

Attacking solo halfway up the Wicklow Gap and then staying clear over the next 35 kilometres to the finish in Naas, Julian Varley (Britain Team KTM) impressed in winning the penultimate stage of the Rás Tailteann.

The 21-year-old Briton raced in 18 seconds clear a 16 man group led in by Robbe Ghys (Belgian National Team), Jacob Rathe (USA Jelly Belly P/B Maxxis), Jason van Dalen (Netherlands Delta Cycling X) and Luuc Bugter (Netherlands Delta Cycling X). Best of the Irish was Lindsay Watson (Antrim Velo Cafe Magasin PowerHouse Sport) in sixth, but there was also a very strong performance from Mark Dowling (Cycling Leinster), the son of former international boxer Mick Dowling.

Combining with the Briton Maximilian Stedman (Britain Canyon Eisberg), Dowling attacked soon after Varley made his move and remained out front until just inside the final 15 kilometres. At one point Dowling looked like he might be in con10tion for the stage win and also a place in the top three overall, but a late rally by race leader Cyrille Thiery (Switzerland National Team) and many of the other main con10ders ended their move.

He finished in the same group as Thiery and takes over from Ronan McLaughlin (Westmeath Viner - Caremark - Pactimo) as the best county rider.

Varley was delighted with his victory. “It is the best result of my career, easily,” he said. “I won some races in the UK, but never UCI events. I knew I had good legs for the climbs. I knew I just had to go big or don’t today.

“I went for it on the last big climb, got aero down the descent and then full gas for the last 10 kilometres into a headwind and on grippy roads.

“I thought taking the race lead was possible. I had 45 seconds on yellow, but all you can do in that situation is give it everything. I was going for yellow, I was going for the stage win, I got the stage but maybe not the yellow. We will see tomorrow.” He has jumped up 16 places to sixth overall, and is now 27 seconds off the yellow jersey.

Race leader Thiery was again impressive under fire, remaining calm when a big group of riders got clear before the day’s biggest climbs of Drumgoff and the Wicklow Gap, and also when his main rivals attacked him on those two climbs.

“For sure at the beginning of the first category one climb [DRUMGOFF], it was quite hard. They all tried to attack me,” he said. “The second climb was a bit more relaxed.

“I never panicked. From the beginning of the race I have a great team. I lost one teammate yesterday but I never panicked. I had Lukas Ruegg in the group. For sure the guys from GC tried to attack, but I could follow. In the final I had to let this guy from KTM [VARLEY]go. I didn’t expect that he was so strong. But I had Lukas with me, he could ride with me and we saved the yellow jersey.”

He remains 10 seconds clear of Luuc Bugter (Netherlands Delta Cycling X), 11 ahead of best Irishman Damien Shaw (Ireland Holdsworth Pro Racing Team), 13 up on the leading young rider Robbe Ghys (Belgian National Team) and 17 ahead of Jason van Dalen (Netherlands Delta Cycling X).

A number of other riders are just 35 seconds back, including Irishmen Conn McDunphy (Ireland Holdsworth Pro Racing Team) in 12th and Mark Dowling (Cycling Leinster) in 15th.

Dowling said he was impressed with Varley’s performance. “He was very strong - we were riding quite hard behind, and there were no stalls in our group or anything. So fair play to him, I would say he definitely did the ride of the race.”

The Rás Tailteann concludes on Sunday with a 144.6 kilometre race from Naas to Skerries. This includes five category three climbs, including ascents of the Black Hills on the finishing circuit. In previous years the race leader has generally remained safe on the final day, but Thiery won’t be able to savour what would be his biggest career success until he crosses the line and wheels to a halt.

Rás Tailteann

Stage 7, Carlow to Naas: 1, Julian Varley (Britain Team KTM) 141.1 kilometres in 3 hours 28 mins 29 secs; 2, R. Ghys (Belgian National Team) at 18 secs; 3, J. Rathe (USA Jelly Belly P/B Maxxis); 4, J. van Dalen (Netherlands Delta Cycling X); 5, L. Bugter (Netherlands Delta Cycling X); 6, L. Watson (Antrim Velo Cafe Magasin PowerHouse Sport); 7, C. Thiery (Switzerland National Team); 8, C. McDunphy (Ireland Holdsworth Pro Racing Team); 9, K. De Ketele (Belgian National Team); 10, N. Holler (Germany Bike Aid); 11, C. Ferguson (Britain Team KTM); 12, P. Kibble (Wales Racing Academy - National Team); 13, S. Bax (Netherlands Delta Cycling X); 14, A. Janssen (Netherlands Delta Cycling X); 15, L. Ruegg (Switzerland National Team) all same time

Category 2 climb of Ballythomas Hill (km 41.8): 1, Taylor Shelden (USA Jelly Belly P/B Maxxis) 10 pts; 2, T. Schir (Switzerland National Team) 8; 3, A. Janssen (Netherlands Delta Cycling X) 6; 4, J. Alderman (Britain Saint Piran Elite Cycling Team) 4; 5, N. Holler (Germany Bike Aid) 3

Category three climb of Mondlea (km. 44.9): 1, Lukas Ruegg (Switzerland National Team) 5 pts; 2, U. Alfredo Castillo Soto (USA Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis) 4; 3, T. Shelden (USA Jelly Belly P/B Maxxis) 3; 4, A. van Engelen (Germany Bike Aid) 2

Category three climb of Annagh Gap (km. 47.4): 1, Lukas Ruegg (Switzerland National Team) 5 pts; 2, U. Alfredo Castillo Soto (USA Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis) 4; 3, D. Bichlmann (Germany Bike Aid) 3; 4, J. Alderman (Britain Saint Piran Elite Cycling Team) 2

Category three climb of Cronebeg (km 73.3): 1, Lukas Ruegg (Switzerland National Team) 5 pts; 2, U. Alfredo Castillo Soto (USA Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis) 4; 3, C. McDunphy (Ireland Holdsworth Pro Racing Team) 3;

4, J. Alderman (Britain Saint Piran Elite Cycling Team) 2

Category two climb of Garrymore (km. 81.4): 1, Lukas Ruegg (Switzerland National Team) 10 pts; 2, U. Alfredo Castillo Soto (USA Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis) 8; 3, R. Townsend (Britain Canyon Eisberg) 6; 4, M. Stedman (Britain Canyon Eisberg) 4; 5, P. Kibble (Wales Racing Academy - National Team) 3; 6, J. Alderman (Britain Saint Piran Elite Cycling Team) 1

Category one climb of Drumgoff (km 92.5): 1, Lukas Ruegg (Switzerland National Team) 15 pts; 2, M. Stedman (Britain Canyon Eisberg) 12; 3, P. Kibble (Wales Racing Academy - National Team) 10; 4, C. McDunphy (Ireland Holdsworth Pro Racing Team) 8; 5, J. Alderman (Britain Saint Piran Elite Cycling Team) 6; 6, A. Janssen (Netherlands Delta Cycling X) 5; 7, M. Dowling (Cycling Leinster) 3

Category one climb of Wicklow Gap (km. 107.4): 1, Julian Varley (Britain Team KTM) 15 pts; 2, M. Dowling (Cycling Leinster) 12; 3, M. Stedman (Britain Canyon Eisberg) 10; 4, L. Ruegg (Switzerland National Team) 8; 5, P. Kibble (Wales Racing Academy - National Team) 6; 6, C. McDunphy (Ireland Holdsworth Pro Racing Team) 5; 7, A. Janssen (Netherlands Delta Cycling X) 3

Category three climb of Slieve Cruagh (km. 122.3): 1, Julian Varley (Britain Team KTM) 5 pts; 2, M. Stedman (Britain Canyon Eisberg) 4; 3, M. Dowling (Cycling Leinster) 3; 4, C. McDunphy (Ireland Holdsworth Pro Racing Team) 2

City North county rider: 1, Lindsay Watson (Antrim Velo Cafe Magasin PowerHouse Sport) 3 hours 28 mins 47 secs; 2, M. Dowling (Cycling Leinster) same time; 3, R. McLaughlin (Westmeath Viner-Caremark - Pactimo) at 21 secs; 4, E. O’Connell (Cork Blarney RC) at 26 secs; 5, P. Clarke (Mayo Ballina Molloys Pharmacies) at 8 mins 56 secs

Team: 1, Netherlands Delta Cycling X, 10 hours 26 mins 21 secs; 2, Switzerland National Team, 10 hours 26 mins 42 secs; 3, Ireland Holdsworth Pro Racing, 10 hours 35 mins 17 secs; 4, Germany Bike Aid, 10 hours 37 mins 41 secs; 5, Britain Team KTM, 10 hours 47 mins 41 secs

Irish county team: 1, Westmeath Viner - Caremark - Pactimo, 10 hours 48 mins 40 secs; 2, Cycling Leinster, 10 hours 52 mins 7 secs; 3, Dublin UCD Fitzcycles, 11 hours 1 min 12 secs; 4, Kerry Tralee Manor West; 5, Dublin Team Gerard DHL, both same time

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