Yellow jersey leader Nicholas Baldo (Switzerland Atlas Jakroo) put on a fine display of riding to take victory on today’s Stage 6 of the An Post Rás. The Frenchman crossed the line ten seconds ahead of Krister Hagen (Norway Oneco – Mesterhus with a sterling effort from Irish amateur rider Adam Armstrong (Dublin Euro Cycles) in third.
(With thanks to Charlie O’Donaill in Kilcar for the pictures)
Baldo extended his overall lead at the top to thirteen seconds over yesterday’s Stage winner Thomas Rostollon (France AVC Aix En Provence).
After a punishing day of racing over mountainous terrain yesterday there were certainly going to be plenty of fatigued legs as the riders faced the daunting route to Killybegs. Once again the riders faced a tough category one climb in the shape of Glengesh, in addition to three category two climbs at Meenirroy, Bogagh and Bavin.
The first 50 kilometres of today’s route was relatively flat with Irishman Philip Lavery (Britain Node4 Giordana racing) active from early on alongside Fiachra O’Muire (Meath Dunboyne DID Electrical), but with the peloton riding at an average speed of 48 kilometres per hour it was virtually impossible to establish a lead.
It was at the 80 kilometre mark coming into Glenties when the first major break occurred. A trio of Remi Sarreboubee (France AVC Aix En Provence), 2009 winner Simon Richardson (Britain Team IG – Sigma Sport) and Frederick Johansson (Britain UK Youth Cycling) pushed ahead establishing a one minute 25 second lead as they made their way to Ardara.
The leaders rode hard and were intermittently chased by small groups but nobody could manage to get across until they were finally caught on the steep hairpin bends of Glengesh.
Further back yellow jersey holder Baldo was chasing hard to catch the bunch after suffering a puncture. The French rider really turned on the afterburners, managing not only to bridge the gap across to the bunch but to chase McCann and Hagen who rode clear holding a 29 second lead.
With four kilometres to go Baldo jumped clear opening up a five second lead and riding home in style ahead of a big bunch of chasers including Irishman Armstrong.
The young amateur rider took the honour of best county rider once more and also the first Irish man to finish on the podium in this year’s Rás.
“I’m over the moon. After such a hard day yesterday I was expecting to just hang on at this stage but I’m recovering well after each stage and feeling really strong,” said Armstrong.
“To finish third in the Rás is a great achievement for me considering I’m just an amateur rider racing against professionals of this pedigree and it’s usually at this stage in the race that the pro’s show their class but I kept riding hard and I’m showing great consistency”, Armstrong added.
When asked on how he felt about being the leading county rider, he admitted it gave him a great sense of pride.
“It means a lot to me. At the moment I’m riding at an amateur level and it’s only a hobby to me. I’m back on night shift on Monday night but I think I’ve proven this week that I’m capable of competing at a higher level”.