Crystal clear win for Downing in Waterford

Brit Russell Downing wins Tour of Ireland opener

Twelve months and one day ago Russell Downing took a stage win and the yellow jersey at the Tour of Ireland when he proved the strongest of a breakaway group. History repeated itself today when the Candi TV - Marshall's Pasta rider did precisely the same again, although this time Waterford rather than Dingle was the scene of his success.

At the end of over five hours of racing, Downing galloped home one second clear of seven other riders, with Alexander Kolobnev (Team Saxo Bank), his team-mate Matti Breschel and Ireland's Philip Deignan (Cervélo Test Team) netting second through to fourth.

Haimar Zubeldia (Astana), Marco Pinotti (Columbia-HTC), Frederik Wilman (Joker Bianchi) and Oleksandr Kvachuk (ISD) also finished in the same time, with Pinotti showing that he is in good form and intent on repeating his overall victory of 2008.

American rider Lance Armstrong was part of the larger 24-man group which surged clear of the peloton on the day's final climb, the second category ascent of Inistioge, and which was split in two by the attacks inside the final ten kilometres. He placed 23rd, his group conceding sixteen seconds to Downing.

Several other big names were present in this larger group, while Saxo Bank's promising young rider Jakob Fuglsang was stranded between the two. All remain in contention overall, although everyone behind Armstrong is at least two minutes and 12 seconds off Downing and can almost certainly kiss their general classification prospects goodbye.

As for the stage victor, he said that he choose his moment correctly and that enabled him to win as he did. "The guy from Joker [Wilman] came out of the corner in the lead," he explained. "When we were going down the bypass [on the other side of the river] there was a really strong headwind, so I knew that there would be a really fast tailwind for the finish.

"One of the Saxo Bank guys took the front so I sat second wheel and tried to look out to see how far the sprint was. His team made took the lead up and gave me a really good draft. The moment was there when I was really on top of the gear and I nearly thought it was a little early, but I went for it. It was a good sprint and it was nice to get it."

Breschel has also won a stage in the past and would normally be counted on in the gallop, but he said that he was a bit fatigued after bridging across to the move. "That took a lot out of my legs," he said. "I was surprised by Russell at the finish. I didn't know who he was, but all of my team-mates told me that he was fast. I did my own race today, saving energy and seeing how far I could get."

Activity from the gun

Several hours earlier in the day 109 riders lined out in Powerscourt for the start of the first stage. A minute's solemn silence was held for Paul Healion, the rider who was killed in a car crash last Sunday, and who was due to participate with the Irish national team.

Shortly after 10am the riders lined out and, after a short loop around the nearly village of Enniskerry, the peloton moved towards the day's first climb of the Lower Sugar Loaf. Last year's KOM winner Matt Wilson (Team Type 1) was first to the top, beating Craig Lewis (Columbia-HTC) and others, then 2008 stage victor Frantisek Rabon (Columbia-HTC) and British national champ Kristian House (Rapha Condor Cycling Team) won An Post bonus sprints in Roundwood and Rathdrum.

While there were countless breakaway attempts, including a big but short-lived move by 24 riders before the bonus sprint in Rathdrum, the first move of significance was a solo effort by Jay Thomson (MTN Cycling) which came approximately an hour and a half after the start. He quickly built a maximum lead of over six minutes, and took both the top mountains points on the first category Mount Leinster after 108.8km and the An Post bonus sprint in Borris with 73km remaining.

Thomson also scooped top mountains points at the Cat 3 Coopanagh climb, where he was three minutes ahead, and continued to plug on alone. Team Ireland's 19 year old Philip Lavery attacked soon after and bridged across to him on the day's final climb, the second category Inistioge, pushing on ahead alone. He was caught however, and dropped by a group of 24 which included almost all of the pre-race favourites.

This group worked well together to build a lead of over two minutes, but then co-operation broke down when the attacks started. The decisive break, which included Pinotti, Fuglsang, Kolobnev, Deignan , Kvuachuck, Downing and Wilman clipped away with four kilometre remaining; Breschel and Zebeldia then joined across before the final sprint, which was won by Downing:

Deignan was happy with his performance, but admitted he did too much on the run in toward the finish on Waterford's crowd-thronged Quays. "I was in the original group of 24 and then with ten kilometres remaining, attacks started to go on the main road," he said. "Groups kept on going and coming back; eventually a group of seven of us got away with about four kilometres go to."

He feels he got things wrong in the finale. "I think I was a bit too aggressive coming in towards the finish, so I didn't have the legs for the sprint."

Breschel also missed out on a possible win, but didn't sound too disappointed. "We have a lot of cards to play, we have a lot of guys in the breakaway. For sure we wanted to win the stage, but basically we are just trying to test ourselves before the Vuelta and hopefully try to take the jersey tomorrow or in Cork."

Twelve months ago Downing had the yellow jersey going into the tough Cork finale but lost out under the continued onslaught of a number of competitors, including the eventually winner Pinotti. This time round, he hopes for better than second overall. "We'll aim to defend and have the jersey heading onto that finishing circuit on Sunday," he said. "I've taken a stage win now, we'll just see how it works out."

Wilson is another who is planning on defending his new garment. He won the King of the Mountains last year and would like to do so again. "It wasn't preconceived to go for the jersey," he said. "I just happened to be on the front on the first climb and no-one really seemed to go for it, so I jumped and went for the top. I got a few points and decided to keep going, to keep plugging away and see what happens. I'll aim to defend this all the way to the finish now."

The race continues tomorrow with another 196 kilometre leg, this time from Clonmel to Killarney. It includes the category-two Musheramore plus the first category Curragh, but a bunch sprint cannot be ruled out. If so, Mark Cavendish (Columbia HTC) is clearly the one to watch.

 

Results
1Russell Downing (GBr) Candi TV - Marshalls Pasta5:10:37 
2Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Saxo Bank0:00:01 
3Matti Breschel (Den) Saxo Bank  
4Philip Deignan (Irl) Cervélo TestTeam  
5Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Astana  
6Marco Pinotti (Ita) Columbia-HTC  
7Frederik Wilman (Nor) Joker Bianchi  
8Oleksandr Kvachuk (Ukr) ISD  
9Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Saxo Bank0:00:07 
10Denys Kostyuk (Ukr) ISD0:00:16 
11Igor Abakoumov (Bel) ISD  
12Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
13Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank Continental Team  
14Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Cervélo TestTeam  
15Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Joker Bianchi  
16Craig Lewis (USA) Columbia-HTC  
17Florian Stalder (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
18Daniel Lloyd (GBr) Cervélo TestTeam  
19Karsten Kroon (Ned) Saxo Bank  
20Andriy Grivko (Ukr) ISD  
21Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana  
22Stuart O:Grady (Aus) Saxo Bank  
23Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana  
24Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Joker Bianchi0:02:12 
25Michael Van Staeyen (Bel) Rabobank Continental Team  
26Davide Appollonio (Ita) Cervélo TestTeam  
27Mark McNally (GBr) Team Halfords  
28Graham Briggs (GBr) Candi TV - Marshalls Pasta  
29Andrew Tennant (GBr) Team Halfords  
30Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Rabobank Continental Team  
31Robert Partridge (GBr) Team Halfords  
32Michael Matthews (Aus) Australian National Team  
33Ian Wilkinson (GBr) Team Halfords  
34Leigh Howard (Aus) Australian National Team  
35Svein Vold (Nor) Joker Bianchi  
36Kristian House (GBr) Rapha Condor Cycling Team  
37Michael Schär (Swi) Astana  
38Jason McCartney (USA) Saxo Bank  
39Ian McLeod (Rsa) MTN Cycling  
40Malcolm Elliott (GBr) Candi TV - Marshalls Pasta  
41Christoff Van Heerden (Rsa) MTN Cycling  
42Vicente Reynes (Spa) Columbia-HTC  
43Simon Richardson (GBr) Rapha Condor Cycling Team  
44Darren Lapthorne (Aus) Rapha Condor Cycling Team  
45Sondre G Sortveit (Nor) Joker Bianchi  
46Ronan Mc Laughlin (Irl) An Post - Sean Kelly Team  
47Jesús Hernández (Spa) Astana  
48Mark O:Brien (Aus) Australian National Team  
49Benny De Schrooder (Bel) An Post - Sean Kelly Team  
50Jef Peeters (Bel) An Post - Sean Kelly Team  
51José Luis Rubiera (Spa) Astana  
52Valery Kobzarenko (Ukr) Team Type 1  
53Niko Eeckhout (Bel) An Post - Sean Kelly Team  
54Matthew Wilson (Aus) Team Type 1  
55Travis Meyer (Aus) Australian National Team  
56Roger Hammond (GBr) Cervélo TestTeam  
57Bartosz Huzarsky (Pol) ISD  
58Steven Van Vooren (Bel) An Post - Sean Kelly Team  
59David McCann (Irl) Irish National Team  
60Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
61Chris Newton (GBr) Rapha Condor Cycling Team  
62Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Saxo Bank  
63Stake Vegard Laengen (Nor) Joker Bianchi  
64Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Astana  
65Jetse Bol (Ned) Rabobank Continental Team  
66Martijn Keizer (Ned) Rabobank Continental Team  
67Martin Reimer (Ger) Cervélo TestTeam  
68Mark Cavendish (GBr) Columbia-HTC  
69Antonio Cruz (USA) BMC Racing Team  
70Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
71Jack Bobridge (Aus) Australian National Team  
72Timothy Roe (Aus) Australian National Team  
73Sam Bennett (Irl) Irish National Team  
74Juan Van Heerden (Rsa) MTN Cycling  
75Stian Remme (Nor) Joker Bianchi  
76Thomas Frei (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
77Dennis Van Winden (Ned) Rabobank Continental Team  
78David Fletcher (GBr) Team Halfords  
79Frantisek Rabon (Cze) Columbia-HTC  
80Nicholas Walker (Aus) Australian National Team  
81Bradley Potgieter (Rsa) MTN Cycling0:02:33 
82Adrien Niyonshuti (Rwa) MTN Cycling  
83Tom Southam (GBr) Rapha Condor Cycling Team0:05:20 
84Pierpaolo De Negri (Ita) ISD0:06:24 
85Paul Griffin (Irl) Irish National Team0:14:17 
86Kenny Lisabeth (Bel) An Post - Sean Kelly Team  
87Philip Lavery (Irl) Irish National Team  
88Sean Downey (Irl) Irish National Team  
89Robert Hayles (GBr) Team Halfords  
90Peter Williams (GBr) Candi TV - Marshalls Pasta  
91Fabio Calabria (Aus) Team Type 1  
92Dean Downing (GBr) Rapha Condor Cycling Team  
93James Sampson (GBr) Candi TV - Marshalls Pasta  
94Morris Possoni (Ita) Columbia-HTC  
95Dale Appleby (GBr) Candi TV - Marshalls Pasta  
96Jackson Stewart (USA) BMC Racing Team  
97Jay Thomson (Rsa) MTN Cycling  
98Dan Craven (Nam) Rapha Condor Cycling Team  
99Shawn Milne (Usa) Team Type 1  
100Mark Cassidy (Irl) An Post - Sean Kelly Team  
101Maurice Vrijmoed (Ned) Rabobank Continental Team  
102Andrew Roche (Irl) Candi TV - Marshalls Pasta  
103Martyn Irvine (Irl) Irish National Team  
104Jeremy Hunt (GBr) Cervélo TestTeam  
105Ken Hanson (Usa) Team Type 1  
106Michael Creed (Usa) Team Type 1  
107Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Columbia-HTC  
108Ino Ilesic Aldo (Slo) Team Type 10:21:10 
DNFEd Clancy (GBr) Team Halfords  
Sprints
Roundwood
1Frantisek Rabon (Cze) Columbia-HTC5pts
2Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Joker Bianchi3 
3Ino Ilesic Aldo (Slo) Team Type 12 
4Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank Continental Team1 
Rathdrum
1Kristian House (GBr) Rapha Condor Cycling Team5pts
2Andriy Grivko (Ukr) ISD3 
3Daniel Lloyd (GBr) Cervélo TestTeam2 
4Fabio Calabria (Aus) Team Type 11 
Borris
1Jay Thomson (Rsa) MTN Cycling5pts
2Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Joker Bianchi3 
3Frantisek Rabon (Cze) Columbia-HTC2 
4Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team1 
Mountains
Lower Sugar Loaf
1Matthew Wilson (Aus) Team Type 16pts
2Craig Lewis (USA) Columbia-HTC4 
3Shawn Milne (Usa) Team Type 12 
4Jeremy Hunt (GBr) Cervélo TestTeam1 
Mount Leinster
1Jay Thomson (Rsa) MTN Cycling15pts
2Matthew Wilson (Aus) Team Type 112 
3Marco Pinotti (Ita) Columbia-HTC10 
4José Luis Rubiera (Spa) Astana8 
5Andriy Grivko (Ukr) ISD6 
6Craig Lewis (USA) Columbia-HTC4 
7Morris Possoni (Ita) Columbia-HTC2 
8Michael Schär (Swi) Astana1 
Coppanagh
1Jay Thomson (Rsa) MTN Cycling6pts
2Matthew Wilson (Aus) Team Type 14 
3Philip Lavery (Irl) Irish National Team2 
4Craig Lewis (USA) Columbia-HTC1 
Inistioge
1Philip Lavery (Irl) Irish National Team10pts
2Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Astana7 
3Matti Breschel (Den) Saxo Bank4 
4Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Saxo Bank2 
5Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana1 
Teams
1Team Saxo Bank15:32:00 
2ISD - Neri0:00:24 
3Cervélo Test Team  
4Astana  
5Joker Bianchi0:02:20 
6Team Columbia - HTC  
7BMC Racing Team0:02:35 
8Candi TV - Marshalls Pasta0:04:15 
9Rabobank Continental Team0:04:31 
10Team Halfords0:06:27 
11Australian National Team  
12Rapha Condor Cycling Team  
13An Post Sean Kelly Team  
14MTN Cycling  
15Team Type 10:18:32 
16Irish National Team  
General classification after stage 1
1Russell Downing (GBr) Candi TV - Marshalls Pasta5:10:27 
2Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Saxo Bank0:00:05 
3Matti Breschel (Den) Saxo Bank0:00:07 
4Philip Deignan (Irl) Cervélo TestTeam0:00:11 
5Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Astana  
6Marco Pinotti (Ita) Columbia-HTC  
7Frederik Wilman (Nor) Joker Bianchi  
8Oleksandr Kvachuk (Ukr) ISD  
9Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Saxo Bank0:00:17 
10Andriy Grivko (Ukr) ISD0:00:24 
11Daniel Lloyd (GBr) Cervélo TestTeam0:00:25 
12Denys Kostyuk (Ukr) ISD0:00:26 
13Igor Abakoumov (Bel) ISD  
14Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
15Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank Continental Team  
16Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Cervélo TestTeam  
17Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Joker Bianchi  
18Craig Lewis (USA) Columbia-HTC  
19Florian Stalder (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
20Karsten Kroon (Ned) Saxo Bank  
21Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana  
22Stuart O:Grady (Aus) Saxo Bank  
23Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana  
24Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Joker Bianchi0:02:18 
25Frantisek Rabon (Cze) Columbia-HTC  
26Kristian House (GBr) Rapha Condor Cycling Team0:02:19 
27Michael Van Staeyen (Bel) Rabobank Continental Team0:02:22 
28Davide Appollonio (Ita) Cervélo TestTeam  
29Mark McNally (GBr) Team Halfords  
30Graham Briggs (GBr) Candi TV - Marshalls Pasta  
31Andrew Tennant (GBr) Team Halfords  
32Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Rabobank Continental Team  
33Robert Partridge (GBr) Team Halfords  
34Michael Matthews (Aus) Australian National Team  
35Ian Wilkinson (GBr) Team Halfords  
36Leigh Howard (Aus) Australian National Team  
37Svein Vold (Nor) Joker Bianchi  
38Michael Schär (Swi) Astana  
39Jason McCartney (USA) Saxo Bank  
40Ian McLeod (Rsa) MTN Cycling  
41Malcolm Elliott (GBr) Candi TV - Marshalls Pasta  
42Christoff Van Heerden (Rsa) MTN Cycling  
43Vicente Reynes (Spa) Columbia-HTC  
44Simon Richardson (GBr) Rapha Condor Cycling Team  
45Darren Lapthorne (Aus) Rapha Condor Cycling Team  
46Sondre G Sortveit (Nor) Joker Bianchi  
47Ronan Mc Laughlin (Irl) An Post - Sean Kelly Team  
48Jesús Hernández (Spa) Astana  
49Mark O:Brien (Aus) Australian National Team  
50Benny De Schrooder (Bel) An Post - Sean Kelly Team  
51Jef Peeters (Bel) An Post - Sean Kelly Team  
52José Luis Rubiera (Spa) Astana  
53Valery Kobzarenko (Ukr) Team Type 1  
54Niko Eeckhout (Bel) An Post - Sean Kelly Team  
55Matthew Wilson (Aus) Team Type 1  
56Travis Meyer (Aus) Australian National Team  
57Roger Hammond (GBr) Cervélo TestTeam  
58Bartosz Huzarsky (Pol) ISD  
59Steven Van Vooren (Bel) An Post - Sean Kelly Team  
60David McCann (Irl) Irish National Team  
61Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
62Chris Newton (GBr) Rapha Condor Cycling Team  
63Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Saxo Bank  
64Stake Vegard Laengen (Nor) Joker Bianchi  
65Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Astana  
66Jetse Bol (Ned) Rabobank Continental Team  
67Martijn Keizer (Ned) Rabobank Continental Team  
68Martin Reimer (Ger) Cervélo TestTeam  
69Mark Cavendish (GBr) Columbia-HTC  
70Antonio Cruz (USA) BMC Racing Team  
71Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
72Jack Bobridge (Aus) Australian National Team  
73Timothy Roe (Aus) Australian National Team  
74Sam Bennett (Irl) Irish National Team  
75Juan Van Heerden (Rsa) MTN Cycling  
76Stian Remme (Nor) Joker Bianchi  
77Thomas Frei (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
78Dennis Van Winden (Ned) Rabobank Continental Team  
79David Fletcher (GBr) Team Halfords  
80Nicholas Walker (Aus) Australian National Team  
81Bradley Potgieter (Rsa) MTN Cycling0:02:43 
82Adrien Niyonshuti (Rwa) MTN Cycling  
83Tom Southam (GBr) Rapha Condor Cycling Team0:05:30 
84Pierpaolo De Negri (Ita) ISD0:06:34 
85Jay Thomson (Rsa) MTN Cycling0:14:24 
86Paul Griffin (Irl) Irish National Team0:14:27 
87Kenny Lisabeth (Bel) An Post - Sean Kelly Team  
88Philip Lavery (Irl) Irish National Team  
89Sean Downey (Irl) Irish National Team  
90Robert Hayles (GBr) Team Halfords  
91Peter Williams (GBr) Candi TV - Marshalls Pasta  
92Fabio Calabria (Aus) Team Type 1  
93Dean Downing (GBr) Rapha Condor Cycling Team  
94James Sampson (GBr) Candi TV - Marshalls Pasta  
95Morris Possoni (Ita) Columbia-HTC  
96Dale Appleby (GBr) Candi TV - Marshalls Pasta  
97Jackson Stewart (USA) BMC Racing Team  
98Dan Craven (Nam) Rapha Condor Cycling Team  
99Shawn Milne (Usa) Team Type 1  
100Mark Cassidy (Irl) An Post - Sean Kelly Team  
101Maurice Vrijmoed (Ned) Rabobank Continental Team  
102Andrew Roche (Irl) Candi TV - Marshalls Pasta  
103Martyn Irvine (Irl) Irish National Team  
104Jeremy Hunt (GBr) Cervélo TestTeam  
105Ken Hanson (Usa) Team Type 1  
106Michael Creed (Usa) Team Type 1  
107Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Columbia-HTC  
108Ino Ilesic Aldo (Slo) Team Type 10:21:19 
Points classification
1Russell Downing (GBr) Candi TV - Marshalls Pasta15pts
2Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Saxo Bank14 
3Matti Breschel (Den) Saxo Bank13 
4Philip Deignan (Irl) Cervélo TestTeam12 
5Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Astana11 
6Marco Pinotti (Ita) Columbia-HTC10 
7Frederik Wilman (Nor) Joker Bianchi9 
8Oleksandr Kvachuk (Ukr) ISD8 
9Frantisek Rabon (Cze) Columbia-HTC7 
10Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Saxo Bank7 
11Denys Kostyuk (Ukr) ISD6 
12Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Joker Bianchi6 
13Kristian House (GBr) Rapha Condor Cycling Team5 
14Jay Thomson (Rsa) MTN Cycling5 
15Igor Abakoumov (Bel) ISD5 
16Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team5 
17Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank Continental Team4 
18Andriy Grivko (Ukr) ISD3 
19Daniel Lloyd (GBr) Cervélo TestTeam2 
20Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Cervélo TestTeam2 
21Ino Ilesic Aldo (Slo) Team Type 12 
22Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Joker Bianchi1 
23Fabio Calabria (Aus) Team Type 11 
 
Mountains classification
1Matthew Wilson (Aus) Team Type 122pts
2Jay Thomson (Rsa) MTN Cycling21 
3Philip Lavery (Irl) Irish National Team12 
4Marco Pinotti (Ita) Columbia-HTC10 
5Craig Lewis (USA) Columbia-HTC9 
6José Luis Rubiera (Spa) Astana8 
7Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Astana7 
8Andriy Grivko (Ukr) ISD6 
9Matti Breschel (Den) Saxo Bank4 
10Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Saxo Bank2 
11Morris Possoni (Ita) Columbia-HTC2 
12Shawn Milne (Usa) Team Type 12 
13Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana1 
14Michael Schär (Swi) Astana1 
15Jeremy Hunt (GBr) Cervélo TestTeam1 
Young rider classification
1Matti Breschel (Den) Saxo Bank5:10:34 
2Frederik Wilman (Nor) Joker Bianchi0:00:04 
3Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Saxo Bank0:00:10 
4Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team0:00:19 
5Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank Continental Team  
Teams classification
1Team Saxo Bank15:32:00 
2ISD - Neri0:00:24 
3Cervélo Test Team  
4Astana  
5Joker Bianchi0:02:20 
6Team Columbia - HTC  
7BMC Racing Team0:02:35 
8Candi TV - Marshalls Pasta0:04:15 
9Rabobank Continental Team0:04:31 
10Team Halfords0:06:27 
11Australian National Team  
12Rapha Condor Cycling Team  
13An Post Sean Kelly Team  
14MTN Cycling  
15Team Type 10:18:32 
16Irish National Team  

 

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