Ballinamore to Claremorris

Stephen Gallagher of the An Post/Sean Kelly sponsored team has a mere second advantage at the top of the leader board after day two of the FBD Insurance Ras which was mainly over  flat roads from Ballinamore to Claremorris yesterday.

Dean Downing edged out Evan Oilphant and Stephen Gallagher to win the stage after they forged ahead in a group of fourteen in the general area of Ballina with a little over 60kms to go.

Overnight, Gallagher held a two second advantage over Downing of Team Stena Rapha Condor Recycling.co.uk in the general listing.

From the off in Ballinamore yesterday morning, the pace was high because of a tail wind which kept the bunch moving at speed at an average speed of 47kph for the first hour of racing.

This did not deter movement at the head of the race and it was obvious that the An Post/Sean Kelly sponsored team were in the  mood for action with Stephen Gallagher and Mark Cassidy being very much to the fore alongside others who were up for a break from the main pack.

Downing the stage winner was also up for it but realised that with a tail wind the effort would prove futile.

At the  King of the Mountains category 3 prime at Slieve Gamph (92.7 kilometres), Alex Higham (Plowman Craven) led over the top, but their advantage was a mere five seconds on a chasing pack which included Ken Hanson the race leader who was being closely monitored by those who had aspirations to take over from him.

With a wind chage in their face a group of fourteen went ahead of  Hanson and the main bunch. Leading the charge was  Roger Aiken (Ireland), Jaroslaw Dabrowski (Poland), Dean Downing and Rob Partridge (Stena Line Rapha Condor Recycling.co.uk), Alex Higham and Evan Oilphant (Plowman Craven), Mark Cassidy and Stephen Gallagher ( An Post M. Donnelly Grant Thornton Sean Kelly), Kieran Page (Pezula Racing), Havard Nybo (Norway Sparebanken Vest), Martin Grashev (Bugaria Nessebar), Stevens Aubert and Renaud Pioline (France Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur) and Andrew Bye (Britain Surrey Racing League).

This group with the exception of a couple of riders who were sent along to marshal the break on behalf of their team leaders started to exert pace which brought them to just short of a three minute lead on the bunch. Then and not until then was there was a reaction from the main pack but the leaders had taken flight. With the leaders at the 1km mark, the chasers were at the 2km point which curtailed their aspirations for day two.

On the run in to the finish the only three were in contention with Downing attempting on several occasions for a solo victory but both Oilphant and Gallagher were having none of it.

But still Downing had the last say when he nudged his wheel over the line to register according him his best win in a stage race.
According to team manager John Herity, “this is a great win for Dean and the team. I am also pleased that we don’t have the jersey as with five man teams it taxes a team to cover all eventualities. This is Deans fifth win of the season and in the days ahead we’ll be ready and waiting to pounce,” said John.

Today the race heads for Lisdoonvarna over a relatively flat course with two climbs.

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