A relentless barrage of attacks by Ian Bibby inside the final 25 kilometres on stage six of An Post Rás today was enough to set up a thrilling sprint finish, with the NFTO team rider emerging victorious following a thrilling sprint to the line.
Bibby attacked the descent on the final category two climb of the stage and from this point on he never looked like relinquishing his lead position. Westmeath man Damien Shaw tracked Bibby all the way, finishing in second place in what was an impressive show of strength and guile by the Louth Team Asea rider.
The longest stage of the race took the riders up the early category three climb of Drumsheen and then on to the most difficult climb thus far in this year’s race, the 10.1 kilometre category two ascent of Altinure. The latter came just over 25 kilometres from the end and was used as a springboard to propel Bibby to his maiden stage victory of An Post Rás in Ballinamore.
From the off, several riders piled on the pressure with attacks but none of them managing to materialise. The first notable break came from Shaw who looked to stamp his authority on the race from early on.
Due to the difficulty of the stage and the attacking mentality of the riders, splits began to emerge ahead of the first category climb of Drumsheen. Irish rider, Conor Dunne (An Post Chain Reaction), led the breakaway along with twelve others. The group worked efficiently over the course of the stage and managed to push the gap out as far as five minutes and forty seconds at its peak on the 68 kilometre mark.
Approaching the 100 kilometre the peloton had managed to reel in the gap to three minutes and thirty seconds however the leaders always looked to be in control.
The winning and losing of this race was always going to come down to which riders could tactically negotiate the treacherous category two climb at Altinure. Reering its head so close to the finish meant that there was no room for error and an attempted attack would have to be timed to perfection if it was going to stick. Bibby made his intentions known early on in the climb with a couple of small bursts of speed but it wasn’t until they crossed the summit that he really stepped on the gas.
Bibby made his move and only Edward Laverack and Damien Shaw had enough left in their legs to match him. They continued to stretch their lead and they were fifteen seconds clear of their nearest competitors in the run in to the final loop of Ballinamore. It was towards the end of this loop that Bibby took the bull by the horns and burst to the front. He was pushed hard by Shaw but pulled away in the final few metres giving NFTO the stage six victory.
A win here in Ballinamore has only served to whet Bibby’s appetite and he’s hungry for more success in the final two stages.
“Tomorrow we should have another good chance of doing well in the stage. I’ve done the last stage a few times now and we definitely have enough to be in the mix so we’ll see how the next couple of days go.”
After today’s result, Lukas Postlberger (Tirol) retains the Yellow jersey and is also joint leader in Points Classification with Aaron Gate (An Post Chain Reaction), while Ryan Mullen (An Post Chain Reaction) now holds a three minute and two second lead over Jaap De Mann (Team 3M) in the U23 category. Best County Rider (Ian Richardson) and King of the Mountains (Robert Partridge) remain unchanged.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Ian Bibby (GBr) NFTO||3:35:47|
|2||Damien Shaw (Irl)|
|3||Edward Laverack (GBr) JLT Condor|
|4||Mark Dowlinf (Irl)||0:00:21|
|5||Liam Holohan (GBr) Genesis Madison|
|6||Clemens Frankhauser (Den) Team Hrinkow Advarics Cycleang|
|7||Marco Tizza (Ita) Team Idea 2010 ASD|
|8||Conno Dunne (Irl) An Post - Chain Reaction|
|9||Sean McKinnon (Can)|
|10||Rhys lloys (Gbr) NFTO|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Lukas Postlberger (Aut) Tirol Cycling Team||17:53:48|
|2||Joshua Edmondosn (GBr) An Post - Chain Reaction||0:01:05|
|3||Ryan Mullen (IRL) An Post - Chain Reaction||0:01:52|
|4||Robert Partridge (GBr) NFTO||0:03:10|
|5||Aaron Gate (Nzl) An Post - Chain Reaction||0:04:32|
|6||Jaap de Man (Ned) Team3M||0:05:21|
|7||Aidis Kruopis (Ltu)||0:07:29|
|8||Alex Frame (Nzl) An Post - Chain Reaction||0:07:34|
|9||Martyn Irvibe (Irl) Madison Genesis||0:07:44|
|10||Sebastian Schonberger (Aut)||0:11:11|