Saturday 22nd August
Clonmel to Killarney
Cavendish Leaves Them All Behind In His Wake
Mark Cavendish (Columbia- HTC) powered his way to victory in the second stage of the Tour of Ireland – Clonmel to Killarney - on Saturday 22nd August.
The young Manxman could not be stopped as he burnt up the tarmac on Port Road, Killarney in front of thousands of spectators who were standing on walls and packed behind the barriers on the finishing straight.
Michael Van Staeyen (Rabobank) finished second with Stuart O’Grady (Saxo Bank) taking third spot in the 200m battle of the sprinters. The stage victory brings Cavendish’s Tour of Ireland tally to four wins in two years.
Russell Downing (CandiTV – Marshalls Pasta) finished safely in the bunch and retained the yellow jersey with just the final stage from Bantry to Cork remaining tomorrow.
The sun shone kindly on the peloton for the second successive day as they headed out from the Tipperary town of Clonmel.
Fourteen kilometres into yesterday's stage, Denis Van Winden (Rabobank) launched a solo attack which gained him no more than 20 seconds on the peloton and lasted a matter of minutes. Within three kilometres of today's rolling start, he made another attempt to get away. This time, in the company of Mark Cassidy (An Post Sean Kelly Team), his move lasted rather longer: 170 kilometres, and 4 hours 21 minutes.
Cassidy took maximum points in the early An Post sprint at Ardfinnen while VanWinden was the first to cross the summit of the Category 2 climb at The Vee. Van Winden won the second sprint in the village of Casteltownroche with the duo still in the lead by over ten minutes but the gap was beginning to fall. After they picked up lunch at the feed zone, the peloton got down to work to bring back the leaders with Lance Armstrong's Astana team prominent at the front.
A crash in the peloton after 120 kilometres brought four riders to the ground: Paul Griffin (Irish National Team), Michael Matthews, Nicholas Walker (Australian National Team), and Oleksandr Kvachuk (ISD-Neri). Only Kvachuk's condition was serious: he was assisted by an ambulance and his injuries led him to abandon the race. The other riders were able to rejoin the peloton.
Soon after the crash, Van Winden darted away from Cassidy and quickly built up an advantage. At the Musheramore climb at 133km, Van Winden led Cassidy by three minutes and the peloton by four. He attacked the climb at Curragh with impetus and maintained a two and a half minute advantage over the peloton at the summit. Cassidy's solitude ended on the climb. He would pay the price for his early efforts by finishing the stage 9 minutes 31 seconds down on the stage winner.
With 25 kilometres remaining, the peloton caught its first glimpse of Van Winden since morning, although the gap remained at 1 minute 6 seconds. The catch occurred at 170 kilometres at the very moment at which, at the rear of the chasing peloton, Rwanda's Adrien Niyonshuti finally lost touch.
Behind the leading duo, Matt Wilson (Team Type 1) had been quietly building on his lead in the mountains competition. On The Vee he took fifth place for a point; on Musheramore and on Curragh he led the peloton over for 4 and 12 points respectively. Wilson ended the active part of his day leading Denis Van Winden by 39 to 35 points in the overall mountains standings.
As the race moved into the final, flatter phase, the Australian National Team controlled the leading edge of the peloton. As every second passed without an attack, the probabilities of a Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia-HTC) win grew, although dangerous side winds and draining road surfaces complicated the run-in. But Cavendish made no mistake and seized his first stage win of this year's Tour of Ireland. By taking fourth place on the stage, Alexander Kristoff (Joker Bianchi) took over the An Post green-points jersey. Team Saxo Bank maintain the lead in the teams competition: Team Saxo Bank rider Matti Breschel remains in the jersey of the Smarter Travel Best Young Rider.
1, Mark Cavendish (Columbia-HTC); 2, Michael Van Staeyen (Rabobank); 3, Stuart O'Grady (Saxo Bank); 4, Alexander Kristoff (Joker Bianchi); 5, Steven Van Vooren (An Post Sean Kelly); 6, Martin Reimer (Cervelo Test Team)
Photos Pete Goding/Jim Keogh