Commentary from Stage 4 2011

Stage 4

10.55: Good morning and welcome to live coverage from today's stage of the race. We are at the start in Castleisland, where it's splattering rain and windy. The former may clear up; the latter could well be here for the day, making it another tough one. 

11.02: The riders are now racing - stage four is go! 167 riders have started today. 

Former national team director Alasdair McLennon has said that the riders will have a "block headwind" for most of today's stage. He's driving the car of RTE Radio's Roy Willougby; these updates are being written in the back seat. 

The mountains classification has been changed after an error yesterday. A rider was incorrectly identified as taking third in the second KOM prime; it should have been Oleksandr Sheydyk (ISD Lampre), and the three points gained have moved him into the jersey. He missed out on the podium presentation yesterday as a result, but was give the jersey at this morning's start. 

In some ways, it would be nice if he can defend the lead so that he gets his podium time this evening. Sheydyk was second yesterday, sprinting in just behind Nikolay Mihaylov (France AVC Aix en Provence). An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Sean Kelly rider Gediminas Bagdonas finished 15 seconds back in the chasing group and took over the yellow jersey. 

11.08: Romain Ramier (France AVC Aix en Provence) is the day's first attacker. He has been joined by KOM leader Oleksandr Sheydyk (Ukraine ISD-Lampre Continental), John Dempsey (Donegal LK Bikes) and Conor Murphy (Dublin Eurocycles). 

11.10: They have been caught, bringing the race back together. 

11.17: Still all together for now? 

11.18: Correction - race radio has just announced that a group has in fact gone clear. Those riders are 

Felix English (Ireland Team Skoda), Rhys Pollock (Australia Drapac Cycling), Lachlann Norris (Australia Drapac Cycling), Mark Cassidy (Belgium An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Sean Kelly), Bob Rodriguez (France AVC Aix en Provence), Romain Ramier (France AVC Aix en Provence), Jakob Steigmiller (Germany Thuringer Energie), Jose Carrasco (Greece KTM Murica), Bernardo Riccio (Italy D’Angelo & D’Antenucci) and Anatoliy Pakhtusov (Ukraine ISD-Lampre Continental). 

11.22: After 17 kilometres of racing, Riccio and Rodriguez have unfortunately crashed out of that break. We think they are okay, but they have lost that opportunity. 

11.23: There are some chasing riders at 22 seconds, with the peloton at 28 seconds. 

Nikolay Mihaylov (France AVC Aix en Provence), Dean Downing (Britain Rapha Condor Sharp), Marytn Irvine (Asia Giant Kenda Cycling Team) and David O’Loughlin (Waterford Comeragh) 

11.25: The four chasers have been caught, with the gap between break and bunch dropping to 20 seconds. 

11.30: The gap is up to 30 seconds - It's raining, but not too heavily. The leaders have covered 21 kilometres thus far, and are trying to build this lead. 

11.33: For video highlights of yesterday's stage, copy and paste this URL into your browser: http://www.anpost.ie/AnPost/IrishCyclingRas/Gallery/Stage+3+of+the+2011+An+Post+Ras.htm

11.39: This break is very gradually pulling clear - they are now 44 seconds ahead. 

11.41: Stage one winner Dean Downing (Rapha Condor Sharp) and Pete Williams (Motorpoint) are chasing, 40 seconds back. 

The peloton is 52 seconds behind. 

11.43: Downing has sat up. Williams continues on, but does so at a slower pace - he too is waiting to be picked up by the bunch. It's hard to close this gap when the group ahead is riding hard. 

11.46: It's nearly a minute now; 58 seconds lead for the eight out front. 

11.50: After going up to one minute six seconds, the bunch has accelerated and brought it back down to under a minute. 55 seconds at this point. The break is working hard to build the gap again. As expected, race leader Bagdonas' team-mate Mark Cassidy isn't working in the move. He's entitled to do so, and the team will hope he gains enough time to put two An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Sean Kelly riders into contention. 

The ideal situation is that the team keeps yellow, but has another rider close by just in case?. 

12.04: The gap is now one minute ten seconds. Cassidy continues to sit at the back, while the others are riding through. 

Felix English is in this break; for many, he'll be best known as the rider who beat Chris Hoy in the European track championships, profiting from a mistake by the Scot in the first round of the sprint. 

The break has a tailwind now, and this will turn to crosswinds after Killarney. 

They are heading into that town now, having done 45 kilometres. 97 kilometres remain until the finish in Castletownbere. 

The finish is in a wonderful area of Cork; very remote and rugged. Used to come here on holidays many years ago - good memories. 

12.10: It's raining heavily now, and the break is in a slight echelon formation. 

They are one minute and six seconds clear. 

12.14: The leaders have just passed the board marking 50 kilometres. We are on the outskirts of Killarney; the riders skirt around it rather than going through the centre. 

The lead is exactly one minute. 

12.25: The break is losing ground quite quickly; after 60 kilometres, it is now just 23 seconds ahead. 

The riders are heading towards the day's first climb, Ladies - View (km. 73.4). Amazing panorama can been seen from the summit, particularly on a clear day. 

That ascent is quickly followed by the similarly-ranked Moll's Gap (km. 78.1), then Tousist (category 3, km. 101.9) and Knockanoughanish (category 2, km. 107.7). 

The day's final climb is the first category battleground of Healy Pass, which comes just 23.4 kilometres from the finish. 

12.28: The break has split. Felix English and three others have been dropped. 

12.30: Rhys Pollock (Australia Drapac Cycling), Lachlann Norris (Australia Drapac Cycling), Mark Cassidy (Belgium An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Sean Kelly) and Jakob Steigmiller (Germany Thuringer Energie) are persisting, but are just 14 seconds ahead. 

12.31: Norris persists, the others sit up? 

We are heading into the mountains and will quite likely lose coverage at points; if there's gaps in the updates, that's why!

12.42: Radio updates have been patchy due to the terrain; we believe that things are back together, though. 

As suspected, coverage is very scarce here - we'll keep writing, and update whenever we can get online. 

Mark McNally (Belgium An Post Sean Kelly), Javier Benitez Pomares (Greece KTM Murica), Christian Varley (Isle of Man Microgaming) and Stephen O’Sullivan (Meath Dectek) have attacked at the start of the first climb. They have covered 70 kilometres. 

Maksym Vasyliev (Ukraine ISD-Lampre Continental) and Neill Delahaye (Meath Dectek) are chasing, 12 seconds back. 

12.45: The peloton is at 44 seconds. It's raining lightly, and very gusty. 

12.47: There's been a serious stall in the bunch and it's now one minute 12 seconds back. 

12.50: Yesterday's stage winner Nikolay Mihaylov (France AVC Aix en Provence) has attacked. 

The two chasers are 40 seconds back, with Mihaylov 56 seconds behind. The peloton is one minute 25 back, and it's raining more heavily. 

O'sullivan has been dropped from the leaders, so there's three left there. He's suffering on the climb and probably cursing the guy who set the route - oh, hang on - it's him this year. He's the son in law of race director Dermot Dignam, and has taken on that task. 

Fair play to him for striking out on this tough stage; it must be tempting for the county riders to stay in the bunch with this winds and rain. 

Mihaylov has caught Vasyliev and Delahaye. 

12.55: It's really gusting hard and raining heavily. The car is parked, waiting for the leaders, and is shaking in the wind. 

The leaders have gone over Ladies - View. 

KOM category 2 at Ladies - View (km 73.4):

1, Javier Benitez Pomares(Greece KTM Murica) 
2, Mark McNally(Belgium An Post Sean Kelly) 
3, Christian Varley(Isle of Man Microgaming) 
4, Stephen O’Sullivan(Meath Dectek) 
5, Maksym Vasyliev(Ukraine ISD-Lampre Continental) 
6, Nikolay Mihaylov(France AVC Aix en Provence) 

The main field is at one minute 30 seconds at the summit. 


12.59: Varley was dropped on the climb. At 76 kilometres, he is 20 seconds behind Benitez and McNally. O'sullivan is at one minute 15 seconds, and has been picked up by the three chasers - Vasyliev, Mihaylov and Delahaye, while the peloton is at one minute 55 seconds. 

The main field is one minute 50 seconds back. 

The riders have 66 kilometres to the finish. Varley is looking back and considering waiting for the four chasers. It's too windy to continue alone. 

Again, no O2 coverage here - will upload this when we are back online. 

13.05: There's a line of cars ahead of us, with a big crowd near the top of the Moll's Gap climb. 

The leaders go over the top of the climb, 55 seconds ahead of Varley. The four chasers are one minute 40 seconds back, with the peloton at one minute 55. 

KOM category 2 at Moll's Gap (km 78.1): 

1, Javier Benitez Pomares (Greece KTM Murica) 
2, Mark McNally (Belgium An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Sean Kelly) 
3, Christian Varley (Isle of Man Microgaming) 
4, Stephen O’Sullivan (Meath Dectek) 

Varley had considered waiting, but saw that the peloton was too close to the chasers and has persisted along. He's driving it along, but it's hard to get good speed on this descent with the wind. 

13.18: Varley finally decided to wait, and went back to the chase group. However, heading into Kenmare (km 87) they have been caught. The two leaders remain out front. 

13.19: We've finally got coverage and will upload this. 

The peloton is one minute 32 seconds back. 

13.24: A group of five chasers are 15 seconds clear of the peloton: Kohei Uchima (Italy D’Angelo & D’Antenucci), Rhys Pollock (Australia Drapac Cycling), Adam Semple (Australia Drapac Cycling), Ronan McLaughlin (Belgium An Post Sean Kelly) and Bastian Burgel (Germany Thuringer Energie). 

They have been joined by Javier Benitez Pomares (Greece KTM Murica), Peter Williams (Britain Motorpoint), Marcin Bialoblocki (Britain Motorpoint) and William Bjergfelt (Britain Motorpoint). 

13.30: Those chasers were caught once again. 

13.32: Three others have clipped away and are chasing. They include James McCallum (Britain Rapha Condor Sharp) and Marcin Bialoblocki (Britain Motorpoint); not sure of the third rider, unfortunately. 

13.36: They join the two leaders.

13.38: The leading five have been joined by 12 others, making a 17 man lead group. 

They are: Felix English (Ireland Team Skoda), Adam Semple (Australia Drapac Cycling), Sam Bennett (Belgium An Post Sean Kelly), Mark McNally (Belgium An Post Sean Kelly), Bob Rodriguez (France AVC Aix en Provence), Remi Sarreboubee (France AVC Aix en Provence), Ralf Matzka (Germany Thuringer Energie), Javier Benitez Pomares (Greece KTM Murica), Yuriy Agarkov (Ukraine ISD-Lampre Continental), James McCallum (Britain Rapha Condor Sharp), Simon Richardson (Britain Sigma Specialized Team), Steven Lampier (Britain Sigma Specialized Team), Peter Williams (Britain Motorpoint), Marcin Bialoblocki (Britain Motorpoint), William Bjergfelt (Britain Motorpoint), Tobyn Horton (Britain Motorpoint) and Andrew Roche (Isle of Man Microgaming) 

13.50: They have 25 seconds heading towards the Healy Pass. 

13.55: Same gap at the moment. The peloton is trying to stop this going clear; who will crack first? 

13.58: It's the break which has folded; it's been caught by the peloton after 112 kilometres of racing? 

Coverage has been bad, but will try to upload this now? 

14.02: Climb results: 

KOM category 2 at Knockanoughanish (km 107.7):

1, Javier Benitez Pomares (Greece KTM Murica) 
2, Steven Lampier (Britain Sigma Specialized Team) 
3, Peter Williams (Britain Motorpoint) 
4, Simon Richardson (Britain Sigma Specialized Team) 
5, Marcin Bialoblocki (Britain Motorpoint) 
6, Yuriy Agarkov (Ukraine ISD-Lampre Continental) 

The leaders have passed the 25km to go board? 

The break has been caught on the climb and, with approximately 2 kilometres to the summit, there's a lead group of 30-40 riders. 

We've gone ahead and are going down the descent - it's extremely twisting. The road is like a string of scattered spagetti, turning back and fourth. There's at least 40 bends to get around. 

14.14: David McCann needs a new bike; not sure if he crashed or had a mechanical issue. He's got a big chase ahead of him. 

An Italian rider crashed; he's up and standing, but may have a broken collarbone. He's waiting for medical attention. 

14.15: Coverage has been bad again but should improve from this point. 

Currently bouncing around in the back of the car due to uneven road surfaces?.very hard to type. 

Due to a complete lack of radio coverage (caused by the terrain), it's hard to work out exactly what happened over the summit. 

14.23: With 15 kilometres to go, Bagdonas has attacked a group of approximately 15 riders and taken off. Salvador Guardiola (Greece KTM Murcia) was previously leading, but has been overhauled. He has managed to grab the wheel of Bagdonas, who is riding very hard into this wind. 

They are being pursued by the rest of that group; approximately 30 seconds further back, a larger group is chasing and includes Irish riders Sean Downey (Ireland Team Skoda) and Sam Bennett (An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Sean Kelly) are there. 

14.28: Bagdonas was caught by his group. The next group is 40 seconds back now. They have ten kilometres to go. 

14.34: Due to poor race radio reception, we haven't got a list of who is in the yellow jersey group. However there's one rider clear: Jose Carrasco (Greece KTM Murcia) had a lead of 20 seconds, but this has dropped to six.. 

14.36: Carrasco has been caught, so it's all together. 

14.37: They have five kilometres to go? 

We've gone ahead to the finish in Castletownbere, and are waiting here. Race radio is still very patchy, unfortunately?

14.38: Two riders have gone clear of the lead group?.

They are Remi Sarreboubee (France AVC Aix en Provence) and Anatoliy Pakhtusov (Ukraine ISD-Lampre). 

14.40: They have a lead of seven seconds and are inside the final three kilometres?

The group behind them has stalled, so it's looking possible? 

14.41: They are nine seconds ahead - Bagdonas is going to keep his yellow jersey, but who will take the stage?

14.44: They’ve been caught...

14.45: It’s a sprint from that group...Bagdonas is right up there, charging for the line... 

14.46: He does it! The yellow jersey takes the victory, netting his second stage win of the race and showing that at this halfway point, he is the boss...

14.48: He beat former race leader Shane Archbold (New Zealand National Team) to the line...Stuart Shaw (Drapac Professional) was third. 

Bagdonas retains the race lead, of course. 

14.53: Sean Downey (Ireland Team Skoda) was best Irishman in eighth. He’s a very promising rider, and is having a solid race. 

14.54: David McCann had bike problems on the descent from the last climb; he never rejoined the front group, and lost five minutes or so. Unfortunately that means his chance of winning the An Post Ras is over for this year. 

15.03: Time to get quotes - we’ll leave the coverage here for today. Here’s the provisional top ten for both stage and overall classification; come back later for full results and a detailed report. Thanks for reading!

An Post Rás, stage 4: Castleisland - Castletownbere: 

1, Gediminas Bagdonas(Belgium An Post Sean Kelly) 3 hours 42 mins 59 secs
2, Shane Archbold(New Zealand National Team) 
3, Stuart Shaw(Australia Drapac Cycling) 
4, Erwan Brenterch(France AVC Aix en Provence) 
5, Bastian Burgel(Germany Thuringer Energie) 
6, James McCallum(Britain Rapha Condor Sharp) 
7, Aaron Gate(New Zealand National Team) 
8, Sean Downey(Ireland Team Skoda) 
9, Salvador Guardiola(Greece KTM Murica) 
10, Jaume Rovira Pous(Greece KTM Murica) all same time

Overall classification: 

1, Gediminas Bagdonas(Belgium An Post Sean Kelly) 16 hours 39 mins 15 secs
2, Oleksandr Sheydyk(Ukraine ISD-Lampre Continental) at 1 min 16 secs
3, Nikolay Mihaylov(France AVC Aix en Provence) same time
4, Peter Williams(Britain Motorpoint) at 1 min 27 secs
5, Aaron Gate(New Zealand National Team) at 1 min 31 secs
6, Simon Richardson(Britain Sigma Specialized Team) 
7, Floris Goesinnen(Australia Drapac Cycling) both same time
8, Shane Archbold(New Zealand National Team) at 2 mins 17 secs
9, Stuart Shaw(Australia Drapac Cycling) at 2 mins 21 secs
10, Anatoliy Pakhtusov(Ukraine ISD-Lampre Continental) same time

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