Robert-Jon McCarthy secured victory in the opening stage of the An Post Rás as the An Post Chain Reaction Sean Kelly team claimed first and second place at the finish in Roscommon.
McCarthy and Kiwi rider Shane Archbold jumped to the front of the bunch coming in to the last corner with McCarthy first across the line to take the victory.
Third place went to Daniel Klemme of the Azerbaijan Synergy Baku team who finished just ahead of Patrick Bevin (New Zealand National Team) in fourth.
One hundred and fifty nine riders made the starting list for this year’s race with the peloton setting off from Dunboyne in Meath and travelling 149 kilometres.
The relatively flat opening stage route made for a fierce and frantic pace with three time bonus sprints adding an extra incentive for aggressive racing.
At the 30-kilometre mark, going through Trim, Rás debutant Jack Wilson (An Post) broke to the front of the peloton alongside Bryan McCrystal (Cork Aquablue) and forged a twenty-second gap.
The duo fought hard to extend their lead but were reeled in shortly before the first prime in Athboy, won by last year’s Rás winner Marcin Bialoblocki of the Britain Velosure Giordana team.
The peloton set a ferocious pace, covering 47.4 kilometres in the first hour and it was at this stage where the first significant breakaway was formed.
A group of ten, including Irish riders Sean Downey (An Post), Fraser Duncan (Dunboyne DID), Eoin Morton (UCD Arrow), McCrystal and Peter Hawkins (Britain Madison Genesis) broke clear, building a lead of 3 minutes 10 seconds as they approached the 100-kilometre mark.
The chasing peloton rode hard to bridge the gap and eventually succeeded, reeling in the breakaway with only 10 kilometres to go. With the main field back together, it all came down to a frantic bunch sprint to the line with Australian rider McCarthy proving fastest.
McCarthy leads the general classification, claiming the first yellow jersey of the week as well as the points classification and Under-23 jersey. Irish amateur Duncan won both the King of the Mountains and County Rider jersey.
A delighted McCarthy was thrilled with the victory after such a frantic finish.
McCarthy said: “I’m over the moon. It was a real team effort. Sean Downey was in the break for most of the stage and which allowed us to have the armchair in the bunch and then Jack taking me and Shane to the front in the last kilometre.
"As we turned the corner on the final stretch myself and Shane were out in front and all I had to do was sprint for 150 metres. I’m delighted.”
Monday's second stage takes the peloton from Roscommon, through Galway, finishing in the coastal town of Lisdoonvarna in Clare.
General classification after Stage 1
1 MCCARTHY Robert-Jon An Post - Chain Reaction 30:39
2 ARCHBOLD Shane An Post - Chain Reaction
3 KLEMME Daniel Synergy Baku Cycling Project
4 BEVIN Patrick
5 LAWLESS Christopher
6 MÜHLBERGER Gregor Tirol Cycling Team
7 BALLERINI Davide Team Idea
8 COLLODEL Matteo Team Idea
9 NAUD Pierrick Garneau - Québecor
10 DOULL Owain An Post - Chain Reaction
11 BIALOBLOCKI Marcin Velosure - Giordana Racing Team