Former World Cup-omnium winner Shane Archbold (An Post Chain Reaction Sean Kelly), sprinted to a narrow victory in today’s second stage of the 2013 An Post Rás.
The New Zealander led the sprint coming into the final stretch and marginally edged out the challenge of Marcin Bialoblocki (Britain UK Youth Pro), Jasper de Buyst (Belgium National Team), and Belfast-born Peter Hawkins (Britain IG Sigma Sport), who finished in second, third and fourth respectively.
Hawkins’ fourth-place finish was enough to earn him the yellow jersey, taking it over from yesterday’s stage winner Conor Dunne.
"I'm not here to ride for general [classification]. If I can ride myself into some form by the end of the week, maybe it's a possibility" - Shane Archbold
It was an overcast day as the riders departed Longford, but the rain held off and with a slight tailwind, in addition to the fact that the stage featured no categorised climbs, a very quick stage was once again on the cards.
A breakaway of twelve, including Irish riders Sam Bennett, Ronan McLaughlin (An Post Chain Reaction Sean Kelly) and Aaron Buggle (Britain Rapha Condor JLT) launched the first attack of the day.
Several groups tried to bridge the gap, but they were unsuccessful as the dozen leaders built up a gap of one minute over the peloton.
After 56 kilometres, the breakaway group was eventually caught. More attacks followed, but all were quickly reeled in by the bunch.
A group of fourteen riders then went clear, led initially by Remi Pelletier (Canada National Team), Tomas Okrouhlicky (Czech Republic AC Sparta Praha) and Rodger Aiken (Louth Prague Charter). They were pursued by a small group of five riders, which quickly swelled into a chasing bunch of over twenty.
Passing through Portumna, with 38 kilometres to go, the lead and chasing groups merged, forming a front bunch of over 40 riders including yellow jersey leader, Dunne.
Archbold attacked from the chasing group, breaking away along with Samuel Harrison (Great Britain National Team), Rasmus Guldhammer (Denmark Blue Water Cycling) and Lars Vierbergen (Holland Koga Cycling).
Seven more riders, including Irish rider Connor McConvey (Azerbaijan Synergy Baku), joined the leading quartet and with five kilometres to go to finish it came down to a sprint with Archbold proving quickest in the dash to the line.
Archbold was clearly ecstatic with the victory and paid tribute to the work of his team.
He said: “I’m thrilled with the win. I was injured at the start of the year and haven’t had too much racing with the way the injury fell, but my form has come good.
"I spent the last three weeks in Holland getting into good shape so it seems to have paid off.
"The races I've been doing have been similar races to the Rás, so I knew I was going to be competitive" - Peter Hawkins
"It was a great team effort today. We missed the vital breakaway yesterday so we were disappointed about that and made sure we had two riders in every breakaway today.
"Thankfully it worked and we’ll just keep on focusing on stage wins for the rest of the week."
New Rás leader Hawkins told the press after the stage: "Form's been pretty good. I'm riding for an English team and I'm living in London now, been there for the last six months, and yeah the form's been good.
"I've had some big races in the UK and I've been getting results. I haven't had any big wins, but I've been there or thereabouts. So, I knew coming into the race the form was good.
"And also the races I've been doing have been similar races to the Rás, so I knew I was going to be competitive."
Dunne (Dublin West Eurocycles) retains the county rider jersey overall with De Buyst assuming control of the under-23 jersey from Dunne.
Stage two results:
1 Shane Archbold (Belgium An Post Chainreaction Sean Kelly) 160 km in 3 hours 23 mins 57 secs
2 Marcin Bialoblocki (Britain Uk Youth Pro Cycling) same time
3 Jasper De Buyst (Belgium National Team) same time
4 Peter Hawkins (Britain Team Ig – Sigma Sport) same time
5 Rasmus Guldhammer (Denmark Blue Water Cycling) same time
6 Connor McConvey (Azerbaijan Synergy Baku) same time
7 Samuel Harrison (Great Britain National Team) same time
8 Lars Vierbergen (Holland Koga Cycling Team) same time
9 Sam Bennett (Belgium An Post Chain Reaction) at 4 secs
10 Kenny de Ketele (Belgium National Team) same time
General classification after stage two:
1 Peter Hawkins (Britain Team Ig-Sigma Sport) 6 hours 13 mins 13 secs
2 Shane Archbold (Belgium An Post Chain Reaction) at 2 secs
3 Marcin Bialoblocki (Britain Uk Youth Pro Cycling) at 2 secs
4 Connor McConvey (Azerbaijan Synergy Baku) at 2 secs
5 Rasmus Guldhammer (Denmark Blue Water Cycling) at 2 secs
6 Steve Lampier (Britain Node4 Giordana Racing) at 2 secs
7 Jasper De Buyst (Belgium National Team) at 2 secs
8 Samuel Harrison (Great Britain National Team) at 2 secs
9 Lars Vierbergen (Holland Koga Cycling Team) at 2 secs
10 Sam Bennett (Belgium An Post Chain Reaction) at 6 secs