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Darragh O’Mahony lights up Tour de l’Avenir with epic escape

Posted on: August 21st, 2017

Darragh O'Mahony Tour de l'Avenir

Darragh O’Mahony let rip on stage 4 of the Tour de l’Avenir. He made the main breakaway and attacked it solo, riding for around 20km on his own. The young Irishman would suffer heartache after the ride of his life (Photo: Audrey Duvan)

 

Darragh O’Mahony lights up Tour de l’Avenir

 

 

Darragh O’Mahony has put in an epic ride at the Tour de l’Avenir, going close to Ireland’s first stage win in the race.

He looked set to take a solo victory only to be swallowed up by the pack at the death.

It was heartache for the Irish, and especially for O’Mahony who had put in the ride of his life all day.

The young Irishman was part of a four-man escape that went clear very early on today’s stage 4.

The longest stage of the Tour de l’Avenir – regarded as the U23 Tour de France – took the riders 166.6km from Derval to Saumur.

There was just one cat 4 ascent to be tackled. But the scorching temperatures and speed made for an uncomfortable day in western France.

Darragh O’Mahony went clear early with Uladzimir Harakhavik and Vasili Strokau of Belarus and Georg Zimmermann (Germany).

They were chased for a long time by a trio made up of Leo Danes (France), Wildy Sandoval Garzon (Colombia) and one other rider.

 

Darragh O'Mahony Tour de l'Avenir

Darragh O’Mahony with the German Zimmerman before he would hit out on his own (Photo: AudreyDuval)

 

The four leaders would combine well for a time and built a lead of 4:30. However, in the main field there was no shortage of teams looking to peg them back.

The main players in that regard were Norway. They were riding to protect the yellow jersey of stage 1 winner Kasper Asgreen, the European U23 TT champion.

With about 20km remaining, and after the cooperation up front fell apart, Darragh O’Mahony took flight.

He attacked and got clear on his own. He promptly put his head down and headed for the finish. And he very nearly made it.

Coming into the final couple of kilometres he was still leading solo.

But on a slight rise in the road just outside the stage finish town, British national champion Chris Lawless attacked the main field.

 

Darragh O'Mahony Tour de l'Avenir

Chris Lawless did all the damage; attacking to win and putting the surge into the chase that did for Darragh O’Mahony.

 

He bridged across and passed O’Mahony, who was understandably on his last legs. And the scatter in the peloton to try and get Lawless back brought the race up to the Irish rider.

The Tour de l’Avenir pack swallowed up Darragh O’Mahony inside the penultimate kilometre.

He would come home in the peloton in what looked like an anonymous 38th place. In reality, he had lit up the stage.

Mark Downey would take another top result, mixing it in the sprint with riders all destined for the pro ranks next season.

The Irish rider finished in 8th place. All of the others in the top 10 are set for ProContinental or WorldTour level next year.

And while Downey did well to break into the top 10 again, he could have done better but for a mishap.

The Irish rider was well-placed at the head of the peloton as it hurtled into Saumur.

 

Darragh O'Mahony Tour de l'Avenir

Matt Teggart in the climbers’ jersey at the start of the stage. He kept the polka dots for tomorrow’s stage 5.

 

However, a crash just before the finish saw Downey relinquish a few places. He perhaps would have broken into the top 5 but for that.

He adds his 8th place from today to the 7th he took on the opening stage.

Matt Teggart, who took the climbers’ jersey on stage 2, has held on in that classification. Teggart has a one point advantage over French rider Valentin Madouas.

The Irish cyclist will wear the polka dots for the third time tomorrow; an excellent run for the An Post-Chainreaction man.

As has been the case on all four stages so far; the rest of the Irish team also finished in the main field today.

Michael O’Loughlin was 28th on the day. Breakaway hero Darragh O’Mahony was 38th and Teggart came home in 54th.

Monaco-based Daire Feeley was 70th and Ryan Reilly was 92nd.

Tomorrow’s stage 5 is another flat one, with a single category four ascent to tackle. And Wednesday’s stage six also has only one modest categorised ascent.

But there are a few uncategorised lumps just outside finish town Saint-Amand-Montrond on Wednesday. Consequently, the Tour de l’Avenir field might split up a little before the race goes nuclear.

The following day, Thursday, is a rest day before three days in the mountains.

Friday’s stage 7 – sees the riders tackle 118.4km from Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc to Hauteluce-Les Saisies.

There are two cat 2 climbs in the first half of the course. And the stage then concludes with a summit finish atop the cat 1 to Hauteluce Les Saisies.

Furthermore, Saturday’s stage 8 takes in two cat 1 ascents – Comet de Roselend and Les Arc 1800. It then concludes at the summit of a cat 2 climb at Sainte-Foy Tarentaise.

The final stage 9, on Sunday, takes the Tour de l’Avenir riders up the HC Col de la Madeleine at the halfway point. And it concludes with another summit finish up the cat 1 Col du Mollard.

 

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