By Shane Stokes in Cork
Team Columbia completed a spectacular Tour of Ireland campaign today, with Italian Marco Pinotti scooping the overall victory in Cork and Frantisek Rabon landing the team's fourth stage win in five days.
Rabon and second-placed rider Fredrik Ericsson (Pezula Racing) were part of a larger breakaway group which went clear early on, and was reduced to those two riders after the first of four ascents of St. Patrick's Hill. They stayed clear until the end of the stage, where Rabon surged ahead and won by fifteen seconds.
Behind, the general classification contenders fired off numerous attacks at race leader Russell Downing, the Pinarello CandiTV rider fighting strongly and succeeding in bringing back a dangerous move by Michael Barry (Team Columbia). He also covered a subsequent attack by his closest rival Julian Dean (Garmin Chipotle), but had nothing left when Pinotti raced clear with approximately ten kilometres to go.
The 32-year-old has serious horsepower, being a triple Italian time trial champion and also having won against the clock on the final stage of this year's Tour of Italy, and once he got a gap there was no bringing him back. He soloed in to the finish, hitting the line one minute and four seconds behind Rabon but, crucially, 33 seconds up on Downing, Lars Petter Nordhaug (Joker Bianchi Team), Dean and Barry.
"I am delighted with this, it is my first stage race victory," he said. "This was already my best pro season but this is really the cherry on top of the cake – I am very happy. Before the stage I didn't think the circuit would suit me but it worked out very well. My teammate Michael Barry attacked and after he was brought back, I went. I got a gap and was able to pull further ahead by the finish."
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