Austria’s Markus Eibegger was rewarded for a brave ride with victory on stage six of the An Post Rás in Carrick-on-Suir this afternoon.
The Synergy Baku rider led throughout and had enough in reserve to repel the challenges of Owain Doull (An Post Chain Reaction) and Patrick Bevin (New Zealand National Team) at the end of the arduous 167.9-kilometre trek from Clonakilty.
Eibegger clocked a winning time of four hours, 15 minutes and 11 seconds, with Doull six seconds in arrears and Bevin one second further back.
Clemens Fankhauser retained the yellow jersey and extended his lead in the general classification to 25 seconds.
Irish county riders Mark Dowling (Meath Dunboyne DID) and Eoin Morton (Dublin Central UCD Arrow) finished seventh and eighth place respectively, ahead of the peloton, which was tormented by wet and blustery conditions all day.
Today’s stage was predicted to be all about speed but a strong cross-wind made it difficult for any attacks to go clear early on.
The first significant break came just after Bandon when a group of nine, including Eibegger, Remi Pelletier-Roy (Canadian National Team) and four Irish county riders – Ronan McLaughlin (Donegal Inishowen Gateway Cafe), Simon Ryan (Tipperary South), Damien Shaw (Cork City Aquablue) and Ian Richardson (Dublin Central UCD Arrow) - attacked aggressively.
A gap of over three minutes was established on the peloton before Eibegger and Pelletier-Roy kicked on again, dropping the remaining seven riders. The duo worked hard to stay away and despite a strong headwind they went clear by almost six minutes over the main field.
Behind the two leaders, the bunch - containing Fankhauser and Bevin - caught the chasers and began eating away in to the breakaways leaders.
With less than 20 kilometres to go the duo were caught and as they approached the ascent of Seskin Hill it was a break of seven riders out in front, including Eibegger, David Chopin (France Bretagne Velotec), Matteo Collodel (Italian Team Idea) Doull and Morton.
As the crowds that lined the steep ascent roared on the riders, Chopin attacked. Bevin chased hard and motored up the climb, alongside Collodel, catching Chopin to make it a lead group of three with only one kilometre to go.
However, there was still a twist in the tale, and in the final few hundred metres it was Eibegger who gritted his teeth and found another gear, taking the chequered flag to roaring applause.
An exhausted but delighted Eibegger said: "It was a really tough stage today, riding out in front with the headwind for so long.
"In the end I was quite happy with 25 kilometres to go to be in a group with just six other guys, as I could sit down for a while.
"On the last climb I just made one massive pull and thankfully it worked out. I’m really happy with it."