Commentary from Stage 7 2011

Stage 7

11.05: Good morning, welcome to coverage of stage seven of this year's An Post Rás. There were two non starters today in Tramore - Johannes Kahra (Germany Thuringer Energie) and Derek Cunningham (Kildare Newbridge). 

11.08: The flag has just dropped, signalling the end of the neutralised section, and two riders have attacked right away. They are Thomas Copeland (Sigma Specialized) and John Dempsey (Donegal LK Bikes). They have been joined by three others, namely Michael Fizgerald (Carlow Dan Morrissey), Christian Varley (Isle of Man) and Stephen Halpin (Donegal Sportactive Engraveit). 

11.11: They now have ten seconds lead. 

11.13: That move has been dragged back. Shane Archbold (New Zealand) has attacked now. 

11.15: Four others are chasing and they are Alex Coutts (Asia Giant Kenda Cycling Team), Casey Munro (Britain Rapha Condor Sharp), Christian Varley (Isle of Man Microgaming) and Michael Fitzgerald (Carlow Dan Morrisey Better Bld). 

They have been joined by four others - Marytn Irvine (Asia Giant Kenda Cycling Team), Kohei Uchima (Italy D’Angelo & D’Antenucci), Tobyn Horton (Britain Motorpoint) and Thomas Copeland (Britain Sigma Specialized Team). 

11.16: Archbold is ten seconds clear of them, with the peloton 20 seconds behind the group. 

11.19: The eight chasers have caught Archbold. The peloton is 32 seconds behind the nine leaders after approximately ten kilometres of racing. 

11.21: Michael Duffy (Dublin Barnardos) is chasing alone, ahead of another sole rider - Hector Gonzalez (Greece KTM Murcia). 

He's 36 seconds back, six seconds ahead of the peloton. 

11.23: Gonzalez has been joined by Conor Murphy (Dublin Eurocycles) and Robin Kelly (Kildare Newbridge). Together they are closing up on Duffy. Those chasers are 37 seconds back, with the peloton at 52 seconds. 

Gonzalez, Murphy and Kelly have been caught; Duffy continues alone. 

11.29: Duffy has been caught. The eight leaders are now one minute 32 seconds ahead. 

11.34: That lead has jumped to two and a half minutes. Archbold started the day two minutes ten second back, so he's now race leader on the road. 

11.35: As expected, the An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Sean Kelly team are setting the pace on the front of the peloton. The leaders have covered 19 kilometres. 

11.35: As expected, the An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Sean Kelly team are setting the pace on the front of the peloton. The leaders have covered 19 kilometres thus far. 

11.39: The lead has gone up to three minutes 2 second after 21 kilometres of racing. The day is cloudy, but relatively bright and mild. There's a slight cross to tailwind, which will help the break along. 

11.45: Horton has gone back from the break; surprised at that, he's bee quite strong this week. 

Ah, got word from neutral car - he punctured. 

11.49: The leaders are on the day's first climb, that of Brown Mountain (category 2). The octet is three minutes 45 seconds ahead of the main bunch after 31 kilometres. 

Horton is 40 seconds behind, and no doubt rueing that flat. 

11.52: The An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Sean Kelly team of the race leader Gediminas Bagdonas is now leading the peloton onto the KOM climb. 

11.57: At the KOM line, Horton is now at one minute 35 seconds behind the leaders. The peloton is three minutes 48 seconds back, so Archbold continues as virtual race leader. 

12.05: Latest gap: three minutes 50 seconds. Archbold is the current leader on the road. The An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly team are just riding tempo for now. 

12.14: Horton has been caught by the peloton. 

12.15: The riders have passed the 50kms sign. The gap remains over three minutes - this break is going to be clear for a long time, methinks, and its advantage will be monitored closely. 

12.26: The latest time gap is four minutes and six seconds. The chasing bunch is now in Thomastown (km 55.8). 

12.44: After 70 kilometres, they are four minutes ten seconds clear. In another ten kilometres they will be at the halfway point of the stage. 

12.47: Irvine won the Gowran Post Office prime (km 70.2). He's been riding well in this An Post Rás. He's a strong track rider and finished tenth in the omnium event at this year's track worlds. He's aiming to quality for the London Olympics in that event. 

12.57: The An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Sean Kelly team are doing most of the riding, with its former riders David O'Loughlin (Waterford Comeragh) and Stephen Gallagher (Donegal Sportactive/Engraveit) also helping out. 

12.59: The gap has dropped to two minutes 51 seconds. The break has covered 82 kilometres, so they have just passed that halfway point in the stage. The roads get quite a bit more lumpy now, with the first category climb of Clogrennane started in just over ten kilometres. That's going to be very interesting? 

13.13: The leaders are three minutes clear starting the climb; they have done 92 kilometres, and the summit is at 98.8. 

This is the final category one climb of this year's race, so the peloton is likely to really explode on this. It could be the last chance for the climbers to really make a difference, as tomorrow's climbs are much shorter. 

By the way, a selection of videos are available from yesterday, as well as highlights from the stages covered thus far; the links to those can be found here.

13.27: The break stayed together on the climb. The gap at the top is one minute 28 seconds over the peloton, which is stretched out but hasn't really broken up as much as had been expected. 

KOM category 1 at Clogrennane (km 98.8):

1, Casey Munro (Britain Rapha Condor Sharp) 
2, Thomas Copeland (Britain Sigma Specialized Team) 
3, Christian Varley (Isle of Man Microgaming) 
4, Marytn Irvine (Asia Giant Kenda Cycling Team) 
5, Alex Coutts (Asia Giant Kenda Cycling Team) 
6, Kohei Uchima (Italy D’Angelo & D’Antenucci) 
7, Michael Fitzgerald (Carlow Dan Morrisey Better Bld) 

13.31: The Ukraine ISD-Lampre team hit the front on the climb but don't appear to have been able to get rid of Bagdonas. That's good news for the An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Sean Kelly team, which is still in control at this point. 

13.40: The An Post team are back on the front and riding to keep things under control. After 108 kilometres, the difference between break and bunch is one minute 21 seconds. There's still 52 kilometres to go, so its going to be interesting to see if Bagdonas' rivals try something. 

13.50: Still the same as before; break working out front, bunch working behind. 

14.00: The latest gap is one minute nine seconds, so this break looks fated to be caught. Archbold has now attacked the break, determined to try do what he can to fight for the stage and jersey. 

He's been brought back; the break is still all together. After 125 kilometres, it's down to 54 seconds. Martyn Irvine is on the front driving the break along, but we fear that he won't be able to hold off the chase behind. He's be a very popular stage winner if things did work out. 

14.10: Irvine's attacked! He's gone clear with approximately 27 kilometres remaining, joining up with Kohei Uchima (Italy D’Angelo & D’Antenucci) an d Casey Munro (Britain Rapha Condor Sharp). 

Three others from that break (Archbold, Coutts and Copeland) are sitting up and waiting for the bunch. 

The three leaders have a 27 second lead over Varley and Fitzgerald, while the peloton is at one minute six seconds. 

14.20: The three leaders continue onwards?.they are totally committed at this point, and know it's going to be tight. 

14.25: Irvine took the Paddy Flanagan prime, which came in Kildangan, 15 kilometres from the finish. 

The gap there was one minute 11 seconds. The two chasers were about to be caught by the peloton. 

14.31: At Monasterevin, ten kilometres from the line, they had 56 seconds? 

14.40: Irvine has attacked alone and is racing onwards. 

14.42: With five kilometres to go, the two chasers are 17 seconds back?.Irvine is riding flat out here. Can he do it? 

14.43: He's got four kilometres to go - the two chasers are at 24 seconds, the main field is at 38 seconds - come on!

14.45: Three kilometres?

The two chasers are 27 seconds, and sitting up - it's 34 seconds to the lone leader? 

14.46: He's inside two kilometres to go - he could do this?!

14.48: He’s still out there....great ride by him...!

14.49: Martyn Irvine wins...superb victory, and very much deserved too.... Well done!

14.51: Yellow jersey Gediminas Bagdonas finished behind the peloton, due to a puncture. Team manager Kurt Bogaerts said it happened inside the final one kilometre, so he should get the same time as the others. He’ll hold yellow in that day to go!

14.54: Irvine looked really delighted. Waiting for him to come to the podium. Ralf Matzka (Germany Thuringer Energie) and Bernardo Riccio (Italy D’Angelo & D’Antenucci) were second and third. 

We’ll leave it there for now...going to get some video interviews to put up later. Come back in a while for top ten results, and a full report later! 

Thanks for reading, as ever. 

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