Madison Genesis rider Liam Holohan soloed to a superb victory on stage seven of An Post Rás in Baltinglass today.
The British rider was part of a seven-man break which led for the majority of the 147.7-kilometre route from Carrick-on-Suir and he crossed the finish line after three hours, 47 minutes and 47 seconds to give his team a first victory on this year’s race.
Hamish Schruers (New Zealand National Team) edged a close sprint with Robert Partridge (Velosure Giordana) to take second place, 46 seconds behind Holohan.
Clemens Fankhauser (Tirol Cycling Team) finished in the main bunch ahead of all his main rivals in the general classification to retain his yellow jersey.
Markus Eibegger (Synergy Baku) deposed Alessandro Pettiti (Team Idea) as King of the Mountains, while Damien Shaw (Cork City Aquablue) wears the county rider jersey for the second time.
There are no changes to the other classifications with Patrick Bevin (New Zealand National Team) holding on to the points jersey and Alex Peters (Madison Genesis) claiming the Under-23 title once again.
The penultimate day’s racing saw another tough day in the saddle for the 125 riders who made the start line. A total of seven climbs, including two category one climbs in quick succession, had to be conquered before the peloton reached Baltinglass.
With the battle very tight at the top of the general classification, an action-packed day was envisaged and the first attack came very early on from Eibegger and Davide Ballerini (Team Idea).
The duo were swiftly swallowed up by the peloton but successfully broke clear again shortly after with a group of six other riders, including Holohan, Patridge, Schreurs, George E Tansley (Team Subaru-Albion) and Shane Archbold (An Post Chain Reaction).
This group of seven riders proved to be the break of the day, working well together to establish a lead of four and a half minutes from the main field, led by Fankhauser.
Going over the first category one ascent of Corabutt, Tansley lost contact, falling 40 seconds behind.
The remaining break fragmented briefly on the descent of Mount Leinster, with Ballerini and Schreurs both suffering punctures. Ballerini, Schreurs and Tansley worked hard to get back with the break and managed to bridge the gap at the 100-km mark.
Back in the bunch, the riders had upped the pace, reducing the break’s lead to just under one and a half minutes.
However, Holohan was in no mood for hanging around and with 20 kilometres to go he made his move. Partridge gave chase and was followed by Schreurs but the duo could not reel in the Madison Genesis rider and he flew home to a rousing reception.
Holohan was happy to make his mark on the race but admits the team are fully focused on the general classification.
“I’ve had good legs all week so really happy to get the stage win,” Holohan said.
“I’ve been trying to get in a break all week but obviously we’ve got the general classification to think about with Alex (Peters) and Ian (Bibby) right up there in second and third place. Today, however, I was given an opportunity and I just grabbed it by the scruff of the neck.”