Teggart delivers in Rás despite looming An Post withdrawal
Morale boost for Chain Reaction team on stage three as sponsor flags departure
Matthew Teggart of the An Post Chain Reaction team wins stage three of the An Post Rás in Bundoran. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Prior to the start of the An Post Rás, the riders on the An Post Chain Reaction team learned that the main sponsor of both the squad and the event would be leaving cycling. On Tuesday, Matthew Teggart bounced back in the best possible way, taking stage three of the race into Bundoran and underlining both his and the team’s quality.
Because of the shared sponsorship, it has always been highly important for the team to perform in the race. This time around, though, the search for a new backer adds even more urgency to the push to land a stage win. Teggart’s sprint victory over Ian Bibby (Britain JLT Condor), Stéphane Poulhies (France Armée de Terre), Dennis Bakker (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) and eight others takes the pressure off somewhat, giving the team an important morale boost in advance of the tough stages to come.
“I am absolutely delighted,” he said. “I really can’t put it into words. It is an absolute honour to even come and ride the Rás for An Post Chain Reaction, never mind win a stage. It really is unbelievable. You dream about days like this.
“In the end I had a decent gallop. I kicked early. I knew there was a big tailwind with 300 to go. I went early and just managed to hold everyone off.”
Stream of attacks
One key element to his win was making it into a big long-range move that isolated overnight leader Nicolai Brochner Nielsen. The Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling rider was put under pressure from the off by a stream of attacks leaving Newport, and within the first 10 minutes of racing 18 riders were clear. These joined forces to eke out a maximum lead of over five minutes, and were later bolstered by eight others.
Present were Teggart, his Irish teammates Seán McKenna and Damien Shaw, fellow Irishmen Jake Gray (Ireland National Team), Robert-Jon McCarthy (Britain JLT Condor), Anthony Walsh (Cork Aqua Blue Sport), Philip Lavery (Tipperary Panduit), Darragh O’Mahony (Ireland National Team), Simon Ryan (Cork Strata3/VeloRevolution) and Daire Feeley (Galway Team iTap), as well as many of the strong internationals.
Also there was the rider who had started the day in second overall, Bakker. He had started the day just nine seconds behind Brochner Nielsen, and was still there when the lead group was whittled down to 13 riders inside the final 25km.
Despite attacks, the group arrived together into Bundoran, where Teggart made his move for the stage win and Bakker finished fourth, taking over at the top.
“I am really happy with it,” the latter said. “I was already happy with the king of the mountains jersey because that was a jersey I missed before when I won the Rás Mumhan. Now I have the yellow one and it is even more special, I think.”
The race heads into the mountains on Wednesday with a tough 151.8km stage to Buncrana. Bakker is ready to fight. “I am really happy with yellow,” he said. “Normally the climbs suit me. I’ll just take it day by day.”
Teggart is third, just 22 seconds back, and is seeking opportunities to advance. “I will take any chance I get,” he pledged. “We came here with a really strong team, so any one of us can win it. We will see what we can do.”
Also at 22 seconds are fellow Irishmen O’Mahony, Lavery, Shaw and McKenna, and these too are close enough to strike.