Nordhaug wins final stage in Ireland

Downing romps home for general classification win as Armstrong withdraws

Returning to the race determined to improve on his second overall of last year, Russell Downing took the best result of his career when he won the Tour of Ireland in atrocious conditions.

The British rider gave himself the best birthday present when he broke clear with Joker Bianchi's Lars Petter Nordhaug in the closing kilometres, having previously coped with the attacks from defending champion Marco Pinotti (Columbia HTC), several members of the Saxo Bank squad plus other riders.

They threw all they could at him but he refused to buckle, then turned defence into offence when he attacked with approximately four kilometres to go. Nordhaugh also went with him.

It was a complete reversal of last year's finale when, as race leader, Downing was unable to follow a late attack by Pinotti and slipped out of yellow.

"The guys were attacking me all day... it was pretty nervous racing and hard to work out what was going to come back and what could stay away," the CandiTV - Marshall's Pasta rider said afterwards. "I actually got in a move myself to relieve the stress and try to put people on the back foot. I think it worked, it got people panicking."

"I felt strong out there... as soon as we came onto the big climb [St. Patrick's Hill] I was really good. I looked across at Pinotti and his tongue was out and everything, but I was there feeling pretty comfortable. This is definitely my biggest result."

Downing had also held the yellow jersey going into the final stage in 2008 but lost it when Pinotti surged clear inside the last 10 kilometres. "Last year was the best ride of my career, and to go one better than that is something else," he said today.

The 31-year-old is riding with the CandiTV Marshall's Pasta squad, a relatively small outfit based in Britain. But, as Breschel said, he's very strong and deserves a ride with a top team.

"I'd hope this result will help," said Downing. "I've had no discussions as yet but hopefully Monday it will start." He'll also hope for a rethink on Britain's world championship selection which has left him out, despite the fact that he was the only finisher from the team last year.

Twelve months ago, Nordhaug finished fifth on the final stage and seventh overall. He improved considerably on that today, making a podium appearance vis-à-vis the stage result and ending the race as runner-up to Downing. "This is for sure my biggest win," said the past Norwegian national MTB champion. "I like this circuit very much. I am a former mountainbike rider so with these conditions too I enjoy it. For sure it is pretty dangerous so you have to be careful."

He said that the key to his success was biding his time, picking his moment. "They were really attacking Russell Downing all the time so I think they were tired from that," he said of the other contenders. "I had to just watch a bit and then attack for myself with the right move. Russell Downing also attacked at almost the same time, so then we went away and just rode hard to the finish."

They crossed the line 33 seconds ahead of the next group of chasers: Matti Breschel (Team Saxo Bank), Craig Lewis (Team Columbia - HTC) plus six others. Pinotti was also in this bunch.

There were 22 riders starting the stage who sat within 26 seconds of Downing's lead but his strong performance completely changed the general classification. Nordhaug finished 23 seconds back while Breschel netted third, a further 20 seconds down. Alexander Kolobnev (Team Saxo Bank) and Pinotti were fourth and fifth respectively.

Irish rider Philip Deignan had started the stage fourth overall and was hoping to finish strongly, but came home in a group 51 seconds behind Downing and had to be content with 12th. He wasn't too disappointed, though; he said the big priority was staying safe prior to his start this coming Saturday in the Vuelta a España.

"It split as soon as we got onto the circuit, on the first climb. I didn't have the legs - I knew straight away that I didn't have the power. I felt sort of average today, and if I'd had the legs I had on the first day I would have been up at the front," he said.

The conditions complicated things a lot, too. "My back wheel was just spinning on the climbs, maybe I had too much pressure in the tyre - every time I was going up the climb, it was losing traction. I was sliding a bit on the corners going downhill and I didn't want to take crazy risks with the Vuelta next week. But things are fine - I'm happy enough with my condition before that race."

The large crowds who turned out to see Lance Armstrong were disappointed; the American pulled out on the first passage over the finish line, without starting St. Patrick's Hill. He indicated afterwards that his back was sore. Lashed by rain almost all stage and facing a very tough finishing circuit, more than half of the 103 starters did not finish.

1Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Joker Bianchi4:00:10 
2Russell Downing (GBr) Candi TV  
3Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo Bank0:00:33 
4Craig Lewis (USA) Team Columbia-HTC  
5Alexander Kolobnev (Rus) Team Saxo Bank  
6Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
7Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank Continental  
8Marco Pinotti (Ita) Team Columbia-HTC  
9Karsten Kroon (Ned) Team Saxo Bank  
10Denys Kostyuk (Ukr) ISD - Neri  
11Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Team Saxo Bank0:00:42 
12Kristian House (GBr) Rapha Condor Cycling Team0:00:51 
13Jason McCartney (USA) Team Saxo Bank  
14Andrey Grivko (Ukr) ISD - Neri  
15Florian Stalder (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
16Philip Deignan (Irl) Cervélo Test Team  
17Jose Luis Rubiera (Spa) Astana  
18Michael Schar (Swi) Astana0:01:02 
19Davide Appollonio (Ita) Cervélo Test Team0:01:07 
20Christoff Van Heerden (RSA) MTN Cycling  
21Malcolm Elliott (GBr) Candi TV Marshalls Pasta  
22Dale Appleby (GBr) Candi TV Marshalls Pasta  
23Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
24Matt Wilson (Aus) Team Type 10:02:10 
25Sam Bennett (Irl) Irish National Team0:02:43 
26Robert Partridge (GBr) Team Halfords0:02:46 
27Ian Wilkinson (GBr) Team Halfords  
28Roger Hammond (GBr) Cervélo Test Team  
29Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Cervélo Test Team  
30Steven Van Vooren (Bel) An Post Sean Kelly Team  
31Mark O'Brien (Aus) Australian National Team0:02:51 
32Peter Williams (GBr) Candi TV Marshalls Pasta0:05:38 
33Timothy Roe (Aus) Australian National Team  
34Pierpaolo De Negri (Ita) ISD - Neri Neri0:06:20 
35Frantisek Rabon (Cze) Team Columbia HTC0:06:43 
36Paul Griffin (Irl) Irish National Team0:07:27 
37Antonio Cruz (USA) BMC Racing Team0:08:01 
38Stian Remme (Nor) Joker Bianchi0:08:23 
39Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Rabobank Continental  
40Mark McNally (GBr) Team Halfords  
41Juan Van Heerden (RSA) MTN Cycling  
42Ian McLeod (RSA) MTN Cycling0:08:35 
43Chris Newton (GBr) Rapha Condor Cycling Team0:10:06 
44Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team Saxo Bank0:13:44 
45Kurt Arvesen (Nor) SAX Team Saxo Bank  
46Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Joker Bianchi0:20:50 
47Sondre G Sortveit (Nor) Joker Bianchi  
DNFMark Cavendish (GBr) Columbia-HTC  
DNFBernhard Eisel (Aut) Columbia-HTC  
DNFVincente Reynes Mimo (Spa) Columbia-HTC  
DNFMorris Possoni (Ita) Columbia-HTC  
DNFLance Armstrong (USA) Astana  
DNFJanez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana  
DNFJesus Hernández (Spa) Astana  
DNFYaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Astana  
DNFHaimar Zubeldia (Spa) Astana  
DNFJeremy Hunt (GBr) Cervélo Test Team  
DNFDaniel Lloyd (GBr) Cervélo Test Team  
DNFMartin Reimer (Ger) Cervélo Test Team  
DNFDavid McCann (Irl) Irish National Team  
DNFPhilip Lavery (Irl) Irish National Team  
DNFMartyn Irvine (Irl) Irish National Team  
DNFIgor Abakoumov (Bel) ISD - Neri  
DNFBartosz Huzarsky (Pol) ISD - Neri  
DNFKenny Lisabeth (Bel) An Post Sean Kelly Team  
DNFMark Cassidy (Irl) An Post Sean Kelly Team  
DNFRonan McLaughlin (Irl) An Post Sean Kelly Team  
DNFJef Peeters (Bel) An Post Sean Kelly Team  
DNFBenny De Schrooder (Bel) An Post Sean Kelly Team  
DNFDarren Lapthorne (Aus) Rapha Condor Cycling Team  
DNFTom Southam (GBr) Rapha Condor Cycling Team  
DNFS Richardson (GBr) Rapha Condor Cycling Team  
DNFDan Craven (Nam) Rapha Condor Cycling Team  
DNFDean Downing (GBr) Rapha Condor Cycling Team  
DNFMichael Creed (USA) Team Type 1  
DNFShawn Milne (USA) Team Type 1  
DNFValeriy Kobzarenko (Ukr) Team Type 1  
DNFIno Ilesic Aldo (Slo) Team Type 1  
DNFFabio Calabria (Aus) Team Type 1  
DNFGraham Briggs (GBr) Candi TV Marshalls Pasta  
DNFJames Sampson (GBr) Candi TV Marshalls Pasta  
DNFAndrew Roche (Irl) Candi TV Marshalls Pasta  
DNFThomas Frei (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
DNFJackson Stewart (USA) BMC Racing Team  
DNFMartin Kohler (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
DNFJack Bobridge (Aus) Australian National Team  
DNFLeigh Howard (Aus) Australian National Team  
DNFTravis Meyer (Aus) Australian National Team  
DNFMichael Matthews (Aus) Australian National Team  
DNFNicholas Walker (Aus) Australian National Team  
DNFFrederik Wilman (Nor) Joker Bianchi  
DNFSven Erik Vold (Nor) Joker Bianchi  
DNFStake Laengen (Nor) Joker Bianchi  
DNFJeste Bol (Ned) Rabobank Continental  
DNFMartijn Keizer (Ned) Rabobank Continental  
DNFMichael Van Staeyen (Bel) Rabobank Continental  
DNFDennis Van Winden (Ned) Rabobank Continental  
DNFMaurice Vrijmoed (Ned) Rabobank Continental  
DNFJay Thomson (RSA) MTN  
DNFBradley Potgieter (RSA) MTN  
DNFAdrian Niyonshuti (RSA) MTN  
DNFRob Hayles (GBr) Halfords  
DNFAndrew Tennant (GBr) Halfords  
DNSKen Hanson (USA) Team Type 1  
An Post Sprint: Leap
1Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Joker Bianchi5pts
2Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Columbia-HTC3 
3Craig Lewis (USA) Team Columbia-HTC2 
4Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank Continental1 
An Post Sprint: Kinsale
1Stuart O:Grady (Aus) Team Saxo Bank5pts
2Jay Thomson (RSA) MTN3 
3Maurice Vrijmoed (Ned) Rabobank Continental2 
4Valeriy Kobzarenko (Ukr) Team Type 11 
An Post Sprint: Cork Finish Circuit
1Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team5pts
2Marco Pinotti (Ita) Team Columbia-HTC3 
3Russell Downing (GBr) Candi TV2 
4Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo Bank1 
KoM Cat.3: Ballybane
1Jef Peeters (Bel) An Post Sean Kelly Team6pts
2Darren Lapthorne (Aus) Rapha Condor Cycling Team4 
3Morris Possoni (Ita) Columbia-HTC2 
4Davide Appollonio (Ita) Cervélo Test Team1 
KoM Cat.1: St Patrick:s Hill
1Marco Pinotti (Ita) Team Columbia-HTC15pts
2Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Joker Bianchi12 
3Russell Downing (GBr) Candi TV10 
4Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo Bank8 
5Craig Lewis (USA) Team Columbia-HTC6 
6Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team4 
7Karsten Kroon (Ned) Team Saxo Bank2 
8Alexander Kolobnev (Rus) Team Saxo Bank1 
Team Stage Placing
1Team Saxo Bank12:02:09 
2Candi TV - Marshalls Pasta0:00:35 
3BMC Racing Team0:00:52 
4Cervélo Test Team0:03:05 
5ISD - Neri0:06:05 
6Team Columbia - HTC0:06:10 
7Team Halfords0:12:16 
8MTN Cycling0:16:26 
9Joker Bianchi0:27:34 
Final General Classification
1Russell Downing (GBr) Candi TV - Marshalls Pasta14:18:03 
2Lars Nordhaug (Nor) TMB Joker Bianchi0:00:23 
3Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo Bank0:00:43 
4Alexander Kolobnev (Rus) Team Saxo Bank0:00:45 
5Marco Pinotti (Ita) Team Columbia - HTC0:00:49 
6Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team0:01:03 
7Craig Lewis (USA) Team Columbia - HTC0:01:05 
8Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank Continental0:01:06 
9Denys Kostyuk (Ukr) ISD - Neri  
10Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Team Saxo Bank  
11Karsten Kroon (Ned) Team Saxo Bank  
12Philip Deignan (Irl) Cervélo Test Team0:01:08 
13Andrey Grivko (Ukr) ISD - Neri0:01:21 
14Florian Stalder (Swi) BMC Racing Team0:01:24 
15Kristian House (GBr) Rapha Condor Cycling Team0:03:17 
16Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Cervélo Test Team0:03:19 
17Jason McCartney (USA) Team Saxo Bank0:03:20 
18Jose Luis Rubiera (Spa) Astana  
19Michael Schar (Swi) Astana0:03:31 
20Christoff Van Heerden (RSA) MTN Cycling0:03:36 
21Malcolm Elliott (GBr) Candi TV - Marshalls Pasta  
22Davide Appollonio (Ita) Cervélo Test Team  
23Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
24Matt Wilson (Aus) Team Type 10:04:39 
25Sam Bennett (Irl) Irish National Team0:05:12 
26Ian Wilkinson (GBr) Team Halfords0:05:15 
27Steven Van Vooren (Bel) An Post Sean Kelly Team  
28Roger Hammond (GBr) Cervélo Test Team  
29Robert Partridge (GBr) Team Halfords  
30Mark O'Brien (Aus) Australian National Team0:05:20 
31Timothy Roe (Aus) Australian National Team0:08:07 
32Frantisek Rabon (Cze) Team Columbia - HTC0:09:38 
33Antonio Cruz (USA) BMC Racing Team0:10:30 
34Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Rabobank Continental0:10:52 
35Mark McNally (GBr) Team Halfords  
36Juan Van Heerden (RSA) MTN Cycling  
37Stian Remme (Nor) Joker Bianchi  
38Ian McLeod (RSA) MTN Cycling0:11:04 
39Chris Newton (GBr) Rapha Condor Cycling Team0:12:35 
40Pierpaolo De Negri (Ita) ISD - Neri0:13:01 
41Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team Saxo Bank0:14:10 
42Dale Appleby (GBr) Candi TV - Marshalls Pasta0:15:41 
43Kurt Arvesen (Nor) SAX Team Saxo Bank0:16:13 
44Peter Williams (GBr) Candi TV - Marshalls Pasta0:20:12 
45Paul Griffin (Irl) Irish National Team0:22:01 
46Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Joker Bianchi0:23:12 
47Sondre G Sortveit (Nor) Joker Bianchi0:23:19 
U25 General Classification
1Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo Bank4:18:46 
2Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team0:00:20 
3Craig Lewis (USA) Team Columbia-HTC0:00:22 
4Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank Continental0:00:23 
5Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Team Saxo Bank  
Team General Classification
1Team Saxo Bank42:56:48 
2BMC Racing Team0:03:27 
3Cervélo Test Team0:03:29 
4Candi TV - Marshalls Pasta0:04:50 
5ISD - Neri0:06:29 
6Team Columbia - HTC0:08:30 
7Team Halfords0:18:43 
8MTN Cycling0:22:53 
8Joker Bianchi0:29:54 
Points Competition
1Russell Downing (GBr) Candi TV31pts
2Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo Bank27 
3Alexander Kolobnev (Rus) Team Saxo Bank25 
Mountains Competition
1Matt Wilson (Aus) Team Type 139pts
2Marco Pinotti (Ita) Team Columbia-HTC25pts
3Craig Lewis (USA) Team Columbia-HTC15pts


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