Nordhaug wins final stage in Ireland

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.

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1Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Joker Bianchi4:00:10
2Russell Downing (GBr) Candi TVRow 1 - Cell 2
3Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo Bank0:00:33
4Craig Lewis (USA) Team Columbia-HTCRow 3 - Cell 2
5Alexander Kolobnev (Rus) Team Saxo BankRow 4 - Cell 2
6Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 5 - Cell 2
7Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank ContinentalRow 6 - Cell 2
8Marco Pinotti (Ita) Team Columbia-HTCRow 7 - Cell 2
9Karsten Kroon (Ned) Team Saxo BankRow 8 - Cell 2
10Denys Kostyuk (Ukr) ISD - NeriRow 9 - Cell 2
11Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Team Saxo Bank0:00:42
12Kristian House (GBr) Rapha Condor Cycling Team0:00:51
13Jason McCartney (USA) Team Saxo BankRow 12 - Cell 2
14Andrey Grivko (Ukr) ISD - NeriRow 13 - Cell 2
15Florian Stalder (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 14 - Cell 2
16Philip Deignan (Irl) Cervélo Test TeamRow 15 - Cell 2
17Jose Luis Rubiera (Spa) AstanaRow 16 - Cell 2
18Michael Schar (Swi) Astana0:01:02
19Davide Appollonio (Ita) Cervélo Test Team0:01:07
20Christoff Van Heerden (RSA) MTN CyclingRow 19 - Cell 2
21Malcolm Elliott (GBr) Candi TV Marshalls PastaRow 20 - Cell 2
22Dale Appleby (GBr) Candi TV Marshalls PastaRow 21 - Cell 2
23Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 22 - Cell 2
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 HalfordsRow 26 - Cell 2
28Roger Hammond (GBr) Cervélo Test TeamRow 27 - Cell 2
29Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Cervélo Test TeamRow 28 - Cell 2
30Steven Van Vooren (Bel) An Post Sean Kelly TeamRow 29 - Cell 2
31Mark O'Brien (Aus) Australian National Team0:02:51
32Peter Williams (GBr) Candi TV Marshalls Pasta0:05:38
33Timothy Roe (Aus) Australian National TeamRow 32 - Cell 2
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 ContinentalRow 38 - Cell 2
40Mark McNally (GBr) Team HalfordsRow 39 - Cell 2
41Juan Van Heerden (RSA) MTN CyclingRow 40 - Cell 2
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 BankRow 44 - Cell 2
46Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Joker Bianchi0:20:50
47Sondre G Sortveit (Nor) Joker BianchiRow 46 - Cell 2
DNFMark Cavendish (GBr) Columbia-HTCRow 47 - Cell 2
DNFBernhard Eisel (Aut) Columbia-HTCRow 48 - Cell 2
DNFVincente Reynes Mimo (Spa) Columbia-HTCRow 49 - Cell 2
DNFMorris Possoni (Ita) Columbia-HTCRow 50 - Cell 2
DNFLance Armstrong (USA) AstanaRow 51 - Cell 2
DNFJanez Brajkovic (Slo) AstanaRow 52 - Cell 2
DNFJesus Hernández (Spa) AstanaRow 53 - Cell 2
DNFYaroslav Popovych (Ukr) AstanaRow 54 - Cell 2
DNFHaimar Zubeldia (Spa) AstanaRow 55 - Cell 2
DNFJeremy Hunt (GBr) Cervélo Test TeamRow 56 - Cell 2
DNFDaniel Lloyd (GBr) Cervélo Test TeamRow 57 - Cell 2
DNFMartin Reimer (Ger) Cervélo Test TeamRow 58 - Cell 2
DNFDavid McCann (Irl) Irish National TeamRow 59 - Cell 2
DNFPhilip Lavery (Irl) Irish National TeamRow 60 - Cell 2
DNFMartyn Irvine (Irl) Irish National TeamRow 61 - Cell 2
DNFIgor Abakoumov (Bel) ISD - NeriRow 62 - Cell 2
DNFBartosz Huzarsky (Pol) ISD - NeriRow 63 - Cell 2
DNFKenny Lisabeth (Bel) An Post Sean Kelly TeamRow 64 - Cell 2
DNFMark Cassidy (Irl) An Post Sean Kelly TeamRow 65 - Cell 2
DNFRonan McLaughlin (Irl) An Post Sean Kelly TeamRow 66 - Cell 2
DNFJef Peeters (Bel) An Post Sean Kelly TeamRow 67 - Cell 2
DNFBenny De Schrooder (Bel) An Post Sean Kelly TeamRow 68 - Cell 2
DNFDarren Lapthorne (Aus) Rapha Condor Cycling TeamRow 69 - Cell 2
DNFTom Southam (GBr) Rapha Condor Cycling TeamRow 70 - Cell 2
DNFS Richardson (GBr) Rapha Condor Cycling TeamRow 71 - Cell 2
DNFDan Craven (Nam) Rapha Condor Cycling TeamRow 72 - Cell 2
DNFDean Downing (GBr) Rapha Condor Cycling TeamRow 73 - Cell 2
DNFMichael Creed (USA) Team Type 1Row 74 - Cell 2
DNFShawn Milne (USA) Team Type 1Row 75 - Cell 2
DNFValeriy Kobzarenko (Ukr) Team Type 1Row 76 - Cell 2
DNFIno Ilesic Aldo (Slo) Team Type 1Row 77 - Cell 2
DNFFabio Calabria (Aus) Team Type 1Row 78 - Cell 2
DNFGraham Briggs (GBr) Candi TV Marshalls PastaRow 79 - Cell 2
DNFJames Sampson (GBr) Candi TV Marshalls PastaRow 80 - Cell 2
DNFAndrew Roche (Irl) Candi TV Marshalls PastaRow 81 - Cell 2
DNFThomas Frei (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 82 - Cell 2
DNFJackson Stewart (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 83 - Cell 2
DNFMartin Kohler (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 84 - Cell 2
DNFJack Bobridge (Aus) Australian National TeamRow 85 - Cell 2
DNFLeigh Howard (Aus) Australian National TeamRow 86 - Cell 2
DNFTravis Meyer (Aus) Australian National TeamRow 87 - Cell 2
DNFMichael Matthews (Aus) Australian National TeamRow 88 - Cell 2
DNFNicholas Walker (Aus) Australian National TeamRow 89 - Cell 2
DNFFrederik Wilman (Nor) Joker BianchiRow 90 - Cell 2
DNFSven Erik Vold (Nor) Joker BianchiRow 91 - Cell 2
DNFStake Laengen (Nor) Joker BianchiRow 92 - Cell 2
DNFJeste Bol (Ned) Rabobank ContinentalRow 93 - Cell 2
DNFMartijn Keizer (Ned) Rabobank ContinentalRow 94 - Cell 2
DNFMichael Van Staeyen (Bel) Rabobank ContinentalRow 95 - Cell 2
DNFDennis Van Winden (Ned) Rabobank ContinentalRow 96 - Cell 2
DNFMaurice Vrijmoed (Ned) Rabobank ContinentalRow 97 - Cell 2
DNFJay Thomson (RSA) MTNRow 98 - Cell 2
DNFBradley Potgieter (RSA) MTNRow 99 - Cell 2
DNFAdrian Niyonshuti (RSA) MTNRow 100 - Cell 2
DNFRob Hayles (GBr) HalfordsRow 101 - Cell 2
DNFAndrew Tennant (GBr) HalfordsRow 102 - Cell 2
DNSKen Hanson (USA) Team Type 1Row 103 - Cell 2
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An Post Sprint: Leap
1Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Joker Bianchi5pts
2Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Columbia-HTC3Row 1 - Cell 3
3Craig Lewis (USA) Team Columbia-HTC2Row 2 - Cell 3
4Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank Continental1Row 3 - Cell 3
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An Post Sprint: Kinsale
1Stuart O:Grady (Aus) Team Saxo Bank5pts
2Jay Thomson (RSA) MTN3Row 1 - Cell 3
3Maurice Vrijmoed (Ned) Rabobank Continental2Row 2 - Cell 3
4Valeriy Kobzarenko (Ukr) Team Type 11Row 3 - Cell 3
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An Post Sprint: Cork Finish Circuit
1Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team5pts
2Marco Pinotti (Ita) Team Columbia-HTC3Row 1 - Cell 3
3Russell Downing (GBr) Candi TV2Row 2 - Cell 3
4Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo Bank1Row 3 - Cell 3
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KoM Cat.3: Ballybane
1Jef Peeters (Bel) An Post Sean Kelly Team6pts
2Darren Lapthorne (Aus) Rapha Condor Cycling Team4Row 1 - Cell 3
3Morris Possoni (Ita) Columbia-HTC2Row 2 - Cell 3
4Davide Appollonio (Ita) Cervélo Test Team1Row 3 - Cell 3
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KoM Cat.1: St Patrick:s Hill
1Marco Pinotti (Ita) Team Columbia-HTC15pts
2Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Joker Bianchi12Row 1 - Cell 3
3Russell Downing (GBr) Candi TV10Row 2 - Cell 3
4Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo Bank8Row 3 - Cell 3
5Craig Lewis (USA) Team Columbia-HTC6Row 4 - Cell 3
6Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team4Row 5 - Cell 3
7Karsten Kroon (Ned) Team Saxo Bank2Row 6 - Cell 3
8Alexander Kolobnev (Rus) Team Saxo Bank1Row 7 - Cell 3
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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
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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 - NeriRow 8 - Cell 2
10Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Team Saxo BankRow 9 - Cell 2
11Karsten Kroon (Ned) Team Saxo BankRow 10 - Cell 2
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) AstanaRow 17 - Cell 2
19Michael Schar (Swi) Astana0:03:31
20Christoff Van Heerden (RSA) MTN Cycling0:03:36
21Malcolm Elliott (GBr) Candi TV - Marshalls PastaRow 20 - Cell 2
22Davide Appollonio (Ita) Cervélo Test TeamRow 21 - Cell 2
23Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 22 - Cell 2
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 TeamRow 26 - Cell 2
28Roger Hammond (GBr) Cervélo Test TeamRow 27 - Cell 2
29Robert Partridge (GBr) Team HalfordsRow 28 - Cell 2
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 HalfordsRow 34 - Cell 2
36Juan Van Heerden (RSA) MTN CyclingRow 35 - Cell 2
37Stian Remme (Nor) Joker BianchiRow 36 - Cell 2
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
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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 BankRow 4 - Cell 2
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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
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Points Competition
1Russell Downing (GBr) Candi TV31pts
2Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo Bank27Row 1 - Cell 3
3Alexander Kolobnev (Rus) Team Saxo Bank25Row 2 - Cell 3
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Mountains Competition
1Matt Wilson (Aus) Team Type 139pts
2Marco Pinotti (Ita) Team Columbia-HTC25pts
3Craig Lewis (USA) Team Columbia-HTC15pts


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