Robert McCarthy wins first stage of An Post Rás

An Post Chainreaction Seán Kelly team have perfect start with first and second

The An Post Rás got off to a perfect start for the Irish-registered An Post Chainreaction Seán Kelly team yesterday, with the squad netting the first two places on the opening leg from Dunboyne to Roscommon.

Riding powerfully in the finale, the team set up Irish-born Australian Robert Jon McCarthy and the Kiwi Shane Archbold, with the duo able to sprint in first and second on the 149.8 kilometre rain-splattered stage. German rider Daniel Klemme (Azerbaijan Synergy Baku) took third in the bunch gallop to the line.

McCarthy grew up in Ireland before moving to Australia at 13. He moved to the An Post Chainreaction Sean Kelly team earlier this year.

He said that riding the An Post Rás was a big ambition of his and he was delighted to take victory on his first day in the race. "I wanted to try to come to the Rás, get a result and win a stage and now I have done that," he told The Irish Times. "It wasn't just me . . . we had an absolutely awesome team effort by all the guys.


"We had Sean Downey in the break and that allowed us to have the armchair in the bunch," he continued, thanking each of his team-mates for their work in leading him out. "We came out of the last corner basically first and second and all I had to do was 150 metres. It is all down to the team, really."

The team is backed by An Post and as it ia also the race sponsor, there is always pressure to perform in the event. General manager Kurt Bogaerts was very pleased by how things worked out. "I couldn't imagine that it could have started better than today. It was the perfect race by the team. There was a big breakaway with about 10 riders in it with Downey, who took some bonifications bonus seconds there," he said. "It took the pressure off the guys and they could stay fresh for the final sprint."

The stage was marked by numerous attacks. The most serious of those went clear several kilometres after defending champion Marcin Bialoblocki won the first bonus sprint in Athboy. Present were Irishmen Downey, Peter Hawkins (Britain Madison Genesis), Bryan McCrystal (Cork City Aquablue), Eoin Morton (Dublin Central UCD Arrow) and Fraser Duncan (Meath Dunboyne DID), as well as Nathan Edmondson (Britain Velosure Giordana), Nic Hamilton (Canada National Team), Marc Ryan (New Zealand National Team), Davide Ballerini (Italy Team Idea 2010 ASD) and Lars Horring (Netherlands Parkhotel Valkenburg).

Duncan took the bonus sprint in Coole, 76.5 kilometres after the start, then also picked up top points at the day’s sole climb, that of Richmount. Hawkins was best in the final intermediate sprint at Ballymahon. The break sped on towards the finish but a surge by by Hawkins, McCrystal, Edmondson, Hamilton and Ballerini inside the final five kilometres was unable to stave off the bunch’s pursuit. It got across to them with three kilometres remaining, after which the An Post Chainreaction team swung into action and set up McCarthy and Archbold for a rare one-two.

Bogaerts noted the team’s first goal of a stage win had been achieved. “We will keep the general classification in mind; we will race clever. I think that is what we need to try to do this week.”

The race continues today with a 159.2km race from Roscommon to Lisdoonvarna.

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes

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