May Bank Holiday weekend saw a dramatic conclusion to the the 2017 An Post Ras stage race and Tour Series criterium series.
James Gullen claimed overall victory in the 8-day UCI stage race, whilst the sprint specialists held onto their three-point lead to take home the overall win in the Tour Series.
Yellow in Dublin
James Gullen and his four team mates produced sensational performances on the final three stages of the An Post Ras to hold onto the leaders yellow jersey and win the race overall.
The young Brit held off Dutchman Ike Groen and multiple World Champion, Cameron Meyer of Australia to take the win in the 65th edition of 1200km, 8-day stage race.
This is the second time this year Gullen has held the yellow leaders jersey in a UCI stage race. In March he won stage two of the Tour de Taiwan, though crashes forced to give up the lead.
In Ireland, Gullen moved into the leaders yellow jersey following a successful breakaway move on stage five. He and teammate Ed Laverack broke away with 100km to go on the lumpy stage that raced through County Donegal. He finished the stage several minutes ahead of the chasing peloton, which gave him a 1 minute lead over his closest rival.
Gullen and his teammates — Ian Bibby, Ed Laverack, Robert McCarthy, Tom Moses — were determined to defend the yellow jersey and spent the next three days racing at the front of the peloton carefully watching breakaway moves and policing the bunch.
James Gullen becomes the first British rider to win the race since Simon Richardson of Rapha Condor in 2009.
“I’m so happy to have defended the jersey. It was a stressful final three days but the team rode amazingly for me. The team are only five riders which makes defending the race harder”, explained James Gullen after the race. “They kept me going, so this win is all down to them.”
5. Damien Shaw (An Post Chain Reaction) at 4 minutes 32 seconds
Tour Series champions for second successive year
JLT Condor were crowned Tour Series champions for the second successive year, defending their title to take their fourth Tour Series crown under the guidance of John Herety.
Two rounds of the series took place over the British bank holiday weekend. The first on the wet cobbles of Durham, where JLT Condor successfully extended their lead by three points over British team, Madison Genesis. Despite the buffer Monday’s final round in Stevenage, Hertfordshire was anything but a formality for the riders.
John Herety admitted to feeling anxious in the build up to the race. “Whilst we had a three point lead, it was a little nerve wracking leading up to the finish. The riders rode very hard in Durham to secure the win, so they had to dig deep here in Stevenage. Again it was wet and four riders needed to finish the race in high positions.”
Speaking after the final in Stevenage Brenton Jones, who took two individual wins in the series was delighted with the overall victory:
“It was a hard race tonight, it started wet and fast, it was tough not to take risks as the pace ramped up. We lost Ali Slater in the final laps, but still had four riders. Madison Genesis won on the night and good on them, but we came here to win the series.
It has been really tiring and they pushed us but we’re really really happy to be overall champions.”
Tour Series Team Standings after 10 rounds
1, JLT Condor, 101pts
2, Madison Genesis, 99pts
3, BIKE Channel Canyon, 83pts
4, ONE Pro Cycling, 82pts
5, Team Raleigh GAC, 72pts
Racing continues in June
JLT Condor performances put them in good form for multiple stage races in June and the Rapha Nocturne in London
Teams will travel to Portugal and South Korea for UCI stage races, which are all part of the build-up towards this years National Championships, which takes place from the 22nd June – 25th June.