Tour of Ireland 2008 – Stage 1

CYCLING- Sprint king Mark Cavendish added to his blue-chip reputation yesterday with a stunning success on the Waterford quays after a gripping first stage of  the Tour of Ireland. Teed up by his teammates in Team Columbia, the world’s top ranked outfit, Manxman Cavendish unleash his turbo-charged power to grab both stage honours and the golden fleece of race leader.

Incredibly, it was the 14th win of the season for Cavendish and his success illustrated the terrific teamwork and race cunning within the Team Columbia ranks.

After two hours racing, Cavendish and company were seven minutes adrift of a breakaway quartet of Martyn Irvine (Pezula Racing Team), Travis Meyer (South Australia.com), David George (MTN South Africa) and Matt Wilson ((Team Type 1) who broke free at Annamoe.

But the revs were soon cranked up and when the pressure came, Irvine and then George were quickly gobbled up. The Aussie duo of Meyer and Wilson hit top speeds of 48kph as they worked in tandem to keep the chasers at bay but Team Columbia are past masters of the hunt.

Timing the pursuit to perfection, the peleton swept up Meyer and Wilson with 10 kilometres to go and the rest was up to Cavendish who hit top gear to leave his rivals gasping in his slipstream. Earlier, the first action of the day on the 192km stage saw Johan Coen (Topsport Vlaanderen) take the honours on the Sugar Loaf ahead of Mark Cassidy (An Post /Sean Kelly).

The first sprint of the day at Roundwood gave an indication of what was come with Alexander Kristoff (Joker Bianchi Team) taking the points but Cavendish was in third place as he lay down a marker that he meant
business. Best of the Irish was Ciaran Power of the Pezula outfit who came in with the main pack in 20th place ahead of the Irish Road Race Champion, Daniel Martin of team Garmin Chipotle H30 in 25th place.

Today the race continues with a stage from Thurles to Loughrea with a start time of 11.20am.

Tour of Ireland

stage one-Dublin/Waterford, 192kms
1 M. Cavendish (Team Columbia, 5hrs.0mins.20secs;
2 J. Dean (Garmin Chipotle), same time;
3 A. Kristoff (Joker Bianchi), st;
4 B. Van Poppel (Rabobank), st;
5 D. Downing (Rapha Condor Recycling.co.uk), st;
6 K. de Schrooder (An Post/Sean Kelly), st;
7 R. Downing (Pinarello CandiTV), st;
8 N. Maes (Topsport Vlaanderen), st;
9 K. Hovelijnck (Topsport Vlaanderen),  st;
10 Z. Dempster (SouthAustralia.com AIS), st.

Overall (with time bonuses)

1 Cavendish, 5hrs.9secs;
2 Kristoff, @4;
3  Dean, @5;
4 Wilson, @8;
5 Van Poppel, @11.
6 D. Downing, st;
7 de Schrooder, st;
8 R. Downing, st;
9 Maes, st;
10 Hovelijnck, st.

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