Wetterhall wheels home in control


CYCLING RÁS:SATURDAY’S STAGE in the Wicklow mountains put Alexander Wetterhall and his Sweden Team Sprocket squad under pressure, but there were no major scares on yesterday’s final stage of the FBD Insurance Rás. The 24-year-old controlled things perfectly throughout the day and finished safely in the main bunch in Skerries, becoming the first Scandinavian victor in the long history of the event.

“I had a really good ride into the finishing town here,” he said, clad in the final yellow jersey of the race. “My legs felt really good on the last two climbs, I was so fresh. I managed to control the attacks well.”

Wetterhall ended the eight-day race 59 seconds clear of Peter Williams (Motorpoint Marshalls Pasta). German sprinter John Degenkolb (Germany Thuringer Energie) followed up his stage win on Friday when he outsprinted Matt Cronshaw (Britain Rapha Condor Sharp) and the rest of the main bunch at the end of the 140 kilometre leg to Skerries. Chris Coyle (Mayo Castlebar Western Edge) was best of the Irish in 10th.

The day had been marked by a long-range move involving seven riders, amongst them Irishmen Mark Cassidy (An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Seán Kelly) and Neil Delahaye (Subway Ireland national team), but things came back together on the finishing circuits. Double Rás victor Chris Newton (Britain Rapha Condor Sharp) and 2008 victor Stephen Gallagher (Britain Sigmasport Specialized) were the last to be caught, but once hauled back, a big gallop was certain.

“It was a nice climb on the circuit. It was good for me – not so long and not so steep,” points winner Degenkolb said afterwards. “I had good legs today.”

So too did Cassidy, who was clear for most of Saturday’s stage and pulled off his first stage victory. He took over the best climber’s jersey from team-mate David O’Loughlin by winning each of the day’s four climbs, including the first category ascents of Drumgoff and Wicklow Gap. He shrugged off any hint of tiredness yesterday to net first and fourth on climbs, confirming his grip on the classification.

In general it was a highly impressive campaign by the An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Seán Kelly team. It took stage wins via David O’Loughlin and Cassidy, fourth overall and the best young rider award with Connor McConvey, that mountains title and also a win in the international teams’ classification. For a team that was marked so closely by others as it was deemed a “home” squad, it was a show of strength.

McConvey will fly to Canada today as he and several other Irish riders will contest an under-23 Nations Cup later this week. His performance was a superb one, particularly as this Rás was the longest multi-day event of his career. As is the case with Cassidy and the ever-aggressive Philip Lavery, the hope is this display will be followed by continued progression in his career. Ditto for Wetterhall, who was a worthy winner.

Stage 8 (Kilcullen- Skerries): 1, John Degenkolb (Germany Thuringer Energie) 140kms in 3 hours 13 mins 40 secs; 2, M. Cronshaw (Britain Rapha Condor Sharp); 3, P. Williams (Motorpoint Marshalls Pasta); 4, S. Shaw (Australia Drapac Porsche); 5, M. Kikuchi (Japan-Nippo); 6, M McNally (Belgium An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Seán Kelly); 7, S. Archbold (New Zealand); 8, M. Wiesiak (Japan-Nippo); 9, L. Schadlich (Germany Thuringer Energie); 10, C. Coyle (Mayo Castlebar Western Edge ); 11, A. Gate (New Zealand); 12, W. Sybrandy (Britain Sigmasport Specialized); 13, A. Armstrong (Ireland Subway National Team); 14, P. Ghyllebert (Belgium An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Seán Kelly); 15, J. Kugler (Austria Arbö KTM-Gebrüder Weis); 16, C. McConvey (Belgium An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Seán Kelly) same time

Final general classification: 1, Alexander Wetterhall (Sweden - Team Sprocket Pro) 24 hours 44 mins 13 secs; 2, P. Williams (Motorpoint Marshalls Pasta) at 59 secs; 3, D. Craven (Britain Rapha Condor Sharp) at 1 min 32 secs; 4, C. McConvey (Belgium An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Seán Kelly) at 1 min 45 secs; 5, J. Tiernan-Locke (Britain Rapha Condor Sharp) same time; 6, R. Partridge (Wales) at 1 min 49 secs; 7, P. Ghyllebert (Belgium An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Seán Kelly) at 2 mins 4 secs; 8, J. Lewis (Australia Drapac Porsche) at 2 mins 7 secs; 9, J. Degenkolb (Germany Thuringer Energie) at 2 mins 19 secs; 10, M. May (Germany Thuringer Energie) at 3 mins 41 secs; 11, J. Steigmiller (Germany Thuringer Energie) at 4 mins 3 secs; 12, S. Richardson (Britain Sigmasport Specialized) at 4 mins 28 secs; 13, J. Kugler (Arbö KTM-Gebrüder Weis) at 4 mins 41 secs; 14, J. Anderson (Sweden-Team Sprocket Pro) at 6 mins 1 secs; 15, D. Pell (Australia Drapac Porsche) at 6 mins 7 secs Selected: 17, R. Sherlock (Dublin Eurocycles – best county rider) at 6 mins 45 secs.

Points classification: 1, John Degenkolb (Germany Thuringer Energie) 68 pts; 2, P. Williams (Motorpoint Marshalls Pasta) 63; 3, D. Craven (Britain Rapha Condor Sharp) 46; 4, W. Sybrandy (Britain Sigmasport Specialized) 42; 5, P. Ghyllebert (Belgium An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Seán Kelly) 39.

Mountains classification: 1, Mark Cassidy (Belgium An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Seán Kelly) 64 pts; 2, D. OLoughlin (Belgium An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Seán Kelly) 57; 3, F. Johansson (Sweden-Team Sprocket Pro) 54; 4, S. Richardson (Britain Sigmasport Specialized) 44 ; 5, J. Steigmiller (Germany Thuringer Energie) 39.