Matteo Cigala on team work and standard of racing in Ireland
Matteo Cigala, front, profited from some selfless work by Mark O’Callaghan, Sean Lacey and Sean Hahessy. (Photo: Sean Rowe)
By Brian Canty
Matteo Cigala went into yesterday’s race in Carrick-on-Suir as the country’s highest-ranked domestic rider.
And he extended his lead at the top of the standings by virtue of a very impressive win against a strong field.
The Italian was in the day’s break that escaped on the six-lap, 120-kilometre, contest early on and was never seen again.
Crucially for him he had team mates Seán Lacey, Seán Hahessy and Mark O’Callaghan in the move.
Also present were Rory Townsend (Bike Channel-Canyon), Michael O’Loughlin (Team Wiggins) and Darragh O’Mahony (O’Leary’s Stone Kanturk).
And completing the move were Jamie Blanchfield (Panduit Carrick Wheelers), Stephen Murray and James Davenport (Strata3-VeloRevolution).
“It was a really fast start with the break getting away after only a couple of kilometres,” said Cigala.
“For us it was a perfect situation as we had four in the move. It was a really strong group with the capability and team representation to stay away all day.
“Compared to the previous races my legs didn’t feel 100 per cent. But because of our teamwork, I was able to win.”
The break had to work hard to first get a time gap of 40 seconds. It then swelled to two minutes.
“My role was to sit tight and hope for a sprint. My teammates were trying to go away and win with a solo breakaway,” Cigala explained.
“Between the strong competition in the break and the headwind in the final it ended up in a sprint. It worked out perfectly for me. Really, I couldn’t have won without my teammates.”
Goals for the coming months
Cigala is taking the season very seriously and is taking aim at the An Post Rás in May.
There are more goals in the interim – starting tomorrow at the Des Hanlon in Carlow.
“Hopefully I can keep it for as long as possible,” he said of his form and topping the rankings.
“There are a lot of strong riders this year and it seems the level is very high. This makes the races really open and competitive.”
He added he has very little time to train and has been sure to maximise the return from every session.