Drama for the Irish: Peter Hawkins crashes out in Rás yellow, Sam Bennett takes stage

Posted on: May 21st, 2013

Sam Bennett (An Post Chainreaction), celebrates as he crosses the line to win Stage 3 of the 2013 An Post Rás; 140km from Nenagh to Listowel. (Photo: www.blackumbrellaphotography.com )


It has been a day of drama for the Irish riders on the An Post Rás, with this morning’s leader Peter Hawkins (IG Sigma Sport) crashing out of the race in the yellow jersey and Sam Bennett (An Post-Chainreaction) absolutely rocketing up the finishing straight in Listowel to grab victory on the day.

It was Bennett’s second career win on the race after he had captured a stage in a bunch sprint back in 2009 when he was a 19-year-old riding for Dan Morrissey.

That win rounded out a good day for the Belgian An Post-Chainreaction team, after they had Sean Downey in the main escape of the day; a three-man move also containing Dan Barry (Node4-Giordana) and Roger Aiken (Louth Charter Prague) that was away for around 100km and gained over six minutes at one stage.

However, they were reeled in just inside 20km to go and despite the efforts of a number of riders to go clear in search of a stage win, the speed of the bunch in the tailwind meant any such escape was short-lived.

That cleared the way for a bunch sprint, from which Bennett proved quickest. He took that victory from Morten Oellegaard (Denmark-Blue Water) and Poland’s Marcin Bialoblocki (UK Youth).

And following the forced withdrawal of Hawkins, it is Bialoblocki who takes over the yellow jersey. He was one of a number of riders two seconds down on Hawkins this morning and on the basis of his stage placing today he takes custody of yellow for tomorrow’s fourth stage.

Yesterday’s stage winner Archbold is second overall while Connor McConvey of Synergy Baku is lurking menacingly and with intent in third place ahead of a couple of days of climbing that should suit him.

Today’s stage winner Bennett is now 9th overall.

“I’m delighted we got the stage win today, it was a superb team effort,” he said.

“Sean (Downey) rode up front for over 100 kilometres and put in a tremendous ride. That meant that the rest of us could sit in the bunch and attack at the right time. We kept right at the top and in contact with any breakaways and in the end it paid off”.

The King of the Mountains jersey stays with Martin Hunal (Sparta Praha) with Michael Fitzgerald (Visit Nenagh.ie) taking the county rider prize and Sam Harrison (Great Britain) taking the Under-23 jersey.

But the big news of the day was that crash by yellow jersey Peter Hawkins. The IG Sigma Sport man took the overall lead yesterday after making the winning breakaway and finishing fourth on the stage into Nenagh. He has been riding well in the UK this year and had said only last night he felt he was in a very good position and could be a real threat for the overall.

However, his hopes of an outright victory and a stage win were ended on the roads around Ballyneety today – approximately 80km into the 140km stage between Nenagh and Listowel – when he was one of a number of fallers in a crash on narrow roads.

The bunch was not going flat out at the time and Hawkins rejoined the race but was then forced to stop and abandon with a suspected broken collarbone, a bitter blow for him after being on the crest of a wave in Rás yellow.

Aaron Buggle (Rapha Condor JLT) was also held up by a crash but has limped home and hopefully can start again tomorrow.


We’ll have more later, but in the meantime have a look below at how the race unfolded.


How it unfolded

The stage of 140km began in bright and sunny conditions in Nenagh this morning with three climbs ahead of the riders before they arrived in Listowel, Co Kerry, this afternoon. The climbs were a second category at Bolingbrook (13km), the third category Ardagh climb at 113km and the last climb of the day; at Athea just 13km from the finish.

Almost immediately the race started it was two Irish riders who took up the running, with Mark Dowling (Polygon Sweet Nice) moving clear with Javan Nulty (DID Dunboyne).

They got 20 seconds immediately and were soon chased down by John Ebsen of the Synergy Baku team and Irishman Anthony Murray, riding for the Australian team Subaru Albion.

Ebsen dropped Murray on the climb and caught Nulty and Dowling, who had stretched their lead over the peloton to one minute.

The Dane riding for the Azerbaijani team took the KOH points at the crest of the climb some 13km into the stage, with Dowling second and Nulty third. A small group of chasers containing Ronan McLaughlin was off the front of the bunch going over the top of the climb, but the whole race soon regrouped and then the main escape of the day formed.

Sean Downey (An Post-Chainreaction) attacked with Dan Barry (Node4-Giordana) just before 20km completed and quickly got a gap of 30 seconds on the main field. Then Roger Aiken of the Louth Charter Prague team took off in pursuit of them on his own and caught them.

With three strong riders up front all pulling their weight, the gap between the leaders and the bunch was 40 seconds with 30kms raced. A further 10kms down the road it had gone out to two minutes.

Behind them, some riders tried to get off the front of the bunch to start a chase group. Among them was Mayo man Paddy Clarke (Castlebar Feraia Bikes) who chased alone for a while before being caught.

The gap between the three leaders and the bunch continued to grow, reaching 4:20 with 65km completed. At that point Dan Barry had a mechanical in the breakaway but after a wheel change he got back in.

No sooner was that minor drama over when it emerged Peter Hawkins (IG Sigma Sport) had been one of a number of fallers in a crash near Ballyneety, Co Limerick, around 80km into the stage. The news then came through that he was out of the race with a suspected collarbone; forced to abandon just on his first day in the yellow jersey.

He had apparently fallen and remounted and gotten back on before having to stop again.

The time check to the breakaway had at that stage – 80-85km raced – shot out to a whopping six minutes and twenty seconds.

However, the bunch then began taking much more of an interest, and with 105kms covered and just 35km to go, the gap had tumbled rapidly to 2:50.

With 16km remaining the gap was down to 40 seconds, with just the climb of Athea remaining and the trio out front were caught soon after that, after around 100km up the road.

Stuart Wight (Canada), Joseph Kelly (Great Britain) and Daniel Foder (Denmark Blue Water) went clear in a counter attack and were joined by two others but that move was closed down just inside 8km to go. And despite the efforts of more to get clear, the bunch remained intact all the way to the finish where Sam Bennett took victory after having led out his team mate Shane Archbold for the win yesterday.


An Post Rás stage 3, Nenagh to Listowel

1, Sam Bennett (An Post Chainreaction) 141.4 kilometres in 3:23:29

2, Morton Oellegaard (Denmark Blue Water)

3, Marcin Bialoblocki (Team UK Youth)

4, Joshua Hunt (Britain Uk Youth Pro Cycling)

5, Owain Doull (Great Britain National Team)

6, Nicholas Vereecken (Belgium An Post Chain Reaction)

7, Benjamin Edmuller (Austria Arbo  Gebrder Weiss)

8, Kristofer Dahl (Canada National Team)

9, Rico Rogers (Azerbaijan Synergy Baku)

10, Tim Mertens (Belgium National Team)


General Classification

1, Marcin Bialoblocki (Britain Uk Youth Pro Cycling) 9 hours 36 mins 44 secs

2, Shane Archbold (Belgium An Post Chain Reaction)

3, Connor Mcconvey (Azerbaijan Synergy Baku)

4, Rasmus Guldhammer (Denmark Blue Water Cycling)

5, Samuel Harrison (Great Britain National Team)

6, Jasper De Buyst (Belgium National Team)

7, Steve Lampier (Britain Node4 Giordana Racing)

8, Lars Vierbergen (Holland Koga Cycling Team) all same time

9, Sam Bennett (Belgium An Post Chain Reaction) at 4 secs

10, Kenny De Ketele (Belgium National Team) same time