Robert-Jon McCarthy takes stage two of the Rás

McCarthy won opening stage of race in 2014 when competing with Australian nationality

Robert-Jon McCarthy celebrates victory in stage two of the Ras. Photograph: Bryan Keane /Inpho

Robert-Jon McCarthy celebrates victory in stage two of the Ras. Photograph: Bryan Keane /Inpho

 

In 2014 he won the opening stage of the Rás as a rider with Australian nationality. On Monday, four years later and once again racing as an Irishman, Robert-Jon McCarthy completed a circle when he again sprinted to victory in the race.

The Ireland National Team rider sped in ahead of Luuc Bugter (Netherlands Delta Cycling X), Lindsay De Vylder (Belgian National Team), Simon Ryan (Cork STRATA 3 - VeloRevolution Cycling Team) and 74 others in a big gallop into Tipperary.

The success came after a long break from competition between mid-02015 and early 2017, a break prompted by disillusionment with the sport, and followed his recent fifth place on stage three of the Tour of Yorkshire.

“I am obviously really, really happy,” he said. “It has been a long road back to get a win again. I am just ecstatic to get up there. I have been working very hard, knocking on the door a bit.

“It was a pretty straightforward run in. It was a big road coming in, so it was just your typical bunch sprint finish. Teams trying to organise themselves, do leadouts and that kind of thing.

“Then there was a corner with 300 meters to go which complicated things slightly with the wet. I managed to negotiate that really well and come off it in second wheel behind the Dutch guy [BUGTER]. I was able to pass him pretty easily in the finish. I just timed it really well and I was able to get the win well.”

The stage began in Athlone and was dogged by rain for much of it. Breaks went clear but never got far; finally, following the third and final categorised climb of the day, Irish duo Fintan Ryan (Cycling Leinster) and Ronan McLaughlin (Westmeath Viner-Caremark - Pactimo) got 30 seconds clear. McLaughlin would sit up after several kilometres, convinced the lead wasn’t sufficient to stay clear, and Ryan was almost recaptured.

However Conn McDunphy (Ireland Holdsworth Pro Racing Team) jumped across to him and together they pulled clear again. However the move was recaptured six kilometres from the line, setting things up for a bunch sprint and McCarthy’s win.

Stage one winner Cyrille Thiery finished in the main bunch and continues to head the general classification.

The Switzerland National Team rider is ten seconds clear of closest rival Bugter, and a further second ahead of former Irish national champion Damien Shaw (Ireland Holdsworth Pro Racing Team).

There are three other Irish riders in the top 12: Jake Gray (Ireland National Team) is sixth, 16 secs back, while McCarthy is 11th and Paidi O’Brien (Dublin Team Gerard DHL) is 12th and best county rider.

O’Brien finished a superb second overall behind future world time trial champion Tony Martin in 2007 but, like McCarthy, walked away from international racing several years later. He is once again riding strongly in the Rás and will hope for more success in the days ahead.

Speaking about McCarthy’s break and successful return, Ireland team manager Neil Martin said that his time away from the sport has done him good.

“He had time out, he had time travelling. He had time just riding a bike. I kept in contact with him. He was touring, he was walking. If they are doing it from an early age, sometimes they have to step back and realise that the bit they can be missing, the partying and all that. . . that there is not really a great deal to that.

“This is the best sport in the world, they miss it, and then they come back with real hunger. He’s still only 24 years of age and he has time to turn professional.”

The race continues on Tuesday with a mainly flat 140.4 kilometre stage between Tipperary and Listowel. It could well end in another bunch gallop, giving McCarthy another chance of sprint success.

Rás Tailteann

Stage 2, Athlone to Tipperary: 1, Robert-Jon McCarthy (Ireland National Team) 148.7 kilometres in 3 hours 14 mins 54 secs; 2, L. Bugter (Netherlands Delta Cycling X); 3, L. De Vylder (Belgian National Team); 4, S. Ryan (Cork STRATA 3 - VeloRevolution Cycling Team); 5, T. Schir (Switzerland National Team); 6, J. van Dalen (Netherlands Delta Cycling X); 7, L. Carstensen (Germany Bike Aid); 8, P. O’Brien (Dublin Team Gerard DHL); 9, J. Gray (Ireland National Team); 10, M. Nowell (Britain Canyon Eisberg); 11, R. Downing (Ireland Holdsworth Pro Racing Team); 12, B. Wolfe (USA Jelly Belly P/B Maxxis); 13, R. Maes (Kerry Killarney); 14, N. Holler (Germany Bike Aid); 15, E. T Moriarty (Kerry Tralee Manor West) all same time

Category two ascent of Bikepark (km 50.6): 1, Lukas Ruegg (Switzerland National Team) 10 points; 2, D. Coombe (Wales Racing Academy - National Team) 8; 3, J. van Dalen (Netherlands Delta Cycling X) 6; 4, L. De Vylder (Belgian National Team) 4; 5, J. Evans (Britain Saint Piran Elite Cycling Team) 3; 6, A. Janssen (Netherlands Delta Cycling X) 1

Category three ascent of Silvermines (km 92.1): 1, Lukas Ruegg (Switzerland National Team) 5; 2, M. Stedman (Britain Canyon Eisberg) 4; 3, C. McDunphy (Ireland Holdsworth Pro Racing Team) 3; 4, T. Shelden (USA Jelly Belly P/B Maxxis) 2

Category three ascent at km. 95.2: 1, Maximilian Stedman (Britain Canyon Eisberg) 5; 2, R. Tulner (Netherlands Delta Cycling X) 4; 3, R. McLaughlin (Westmeath Viner-Caremark - Pactimo) 3 

City North county rider: 1, Simon Ryan (Cork STRATA 3 - VeloRevolution Cycling Team) 3 hours 14 mins 54 secs; 2, P. O’Brien (Dublin Team Gerard DHL); 3, R. Maes (Kerry Killarney); 4, E. T Moriarty (Kerry Tralee Manor West); 5, J. Wright (Antrim Velo Cafe Magasin PowerHouse Sport) all same time

Team: 1, Netherlands Delta Cycling X, 9 hours 44 mins 42 secs; 2, Ireland National Team; 3, Belgian National Team; 4, Switzerland National Team; 5, Britain Canyon Eisberg, all same time

Irish county team: 1, Westmeath Viner-Caremark-Pactimo 9 hours 44 mins 42 secs; 2, Cork Strata3 - VeloRevolution; 3, Dublin Team Gerard DHL; 4, Tipperary Panduit, all same time; 5, Kerry Tralee Manor West, 9 hours 51 mins 9 secs

General classification after two stages: 1, Cyrille Thiery (Switzerland National Team) 6 hours 12 mins 45 secs; 2, L. Bugter (Netherlands Delta Cycling X) at 10 secs; 3, D. Shaw (Ireland Holdsworth Pro Racing Team) at 11 secs; 4, R. Ghys (Belgian National Team) at 13 secs; 5, B. Wolfe (USA Jelly Belly P/B Maxxis) at 15 secs; 6, J. Gray (Ireland National Team) at 16 secs; 7, D. Gardias (Britain Canyon Eisberg) same time; 8, J. van Dalen (Netherlands Delta Cycling X) at 17 secs; 9, C. Imhof (Switzerland National Team); 10, W. Harper (Britain Saint Piran Elite Cycling Team) both same time; 11, R.J McCarthy (Ireland National Team) at 35 secs; 12, P. O’Brien (Dublin Team Gerard DHL); 13, T. Schir (Switzerland National Team); 14, L. Carstensen (Germany Bike Aid); 15, M. Nowell (Britain Canyon Eisberg) all same time

Points competition: 1, Luuc Bugter (Netherlands Delta Cycling X) 28 points; 2, J. van Dalen (Netherlands Delta Cycling X) 22; 3, R.J McCarthy (Ireland National Team) 20; 4, J. Gray (Ireland National Team) 17; 5, C. Thiery (Switzerland National Team) 15

Mountains competition: 1, Lukas Ruegg (Switzerland National Team) 15 points; 2, D. Coombe (Wales Racing Academy - National Team) 11; 3, C.Thiery (Switzerland National Team) 10; 4, M. Stedman (Britain Canyon Eisberg) 9; 5, L. De Vylder (Belgian National Team) 8

Under-23 rider: 1, Robbe Ghys (Belgian National Team) 6 hours 12 mins 58 secs; 2, J. Gray (Ireland National Team) at 3 secs; 3, M. Nowell (Britain Canyon Eisberg) at 22 secs; 4, W. Roberts (Wales Racing Academy - National Team); 5, S. Bax (Netherlands Delta Cycling X) both same time

County rider: 1, Paidi O’Brien (Dublin Team Gerard DHL) 6 hours 13 mins 20 secs; 2, R. Maes (Kerry Killarney); 3, E. T Moriarty (Kerry Tralee Manor West); 4, L. Watson (Antrim Velo Cafe Magasin PowerHouse Sport); 5, P. Kennedy (Kerry Tralee Manor West) all same time

Cycling Ireland category 2: 1, Raymond Cullen (Tipperary Panduit) 6 hours 13 mins 20 secs; 2, C. Longmore (Dublin Lucan PDM) at 4 secs; 3, B. English (Dublin Scott Orwell Wheelers) at 23 secs; 4, S. Jones (Dublin UCD FitzCyles); 5, J. Canty (Longford Outdoor Escape Bike Shop) both same time

Team: 1, Switzerland National Team, 18 hours 39 mins 19 secs; 2, Netherlands Delta Cycling X, at 4 secs; 3, Ireland National Team, at 23 secs; 4, Belgian National Team; 5, Ireland Holdsworth Pro Racing Team, both same time

Irish county team: 1, Westmeath Viner-Caremark-Pactimo, 18 hours 40 mins; 2, Cork Strata 3 - Velorevolution; 3, Dublin Team Gerard DHL; 4, Tipperary Panduit, all same time; 5, Kerry Tralee Manor West, at 6 mins 27 secs

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