By Shane Stokes in Ballinamore
US American rider Ken Hanson galloped to success on day one of the FBD Insurance Rás in Ballinamore, Ireland, winning the bunch sprint to the line and taking the first yellow jersey. The criterium specialist normally competes with the BMC racing team but is guesting with the Isle of Man Microgaming Dolan squad for the 2.2-ranked Irish event.
The victory in Leitrim was a sweet one for the 26 year-old, given that it was his first international individual win. Adding to the importance of the win, Ireland is the county where his grandmother came from.
"My first time here was last October," he said. "I met all my cousins then. I know about the race as some of the teams I race against in the US have competed here in the past.
"I normally ride with the BMC Racing team but asked the promoter if there was a team with an open spot," he added. "Ten days ago I got contacted by the guy who runs the Isle of Man team who said he had a spot if I was interested."
That team director was surely pinching himself last night, given that Hanson had already made his week a success. "It all happened so fast," said Hanson. "I am so happy that I was able to make it and have success on the first stage."
Hanson beat Dutchman Patrick Kos (Dutch National Team), Belgian Benny de Schrooder (Ireland An Post M. Donnelly Grant Thornton Sean Kelly team) plus the rest of the bunch in the slightly uphill sprint to the line.
Read up on the full report of the race.