An Post complete ‘best result ever’ in Rás

Aidis Kruopis of the An Post Chain Reaction team claimed yesterday’s eighth and final stage of a thrilling An Post Rás, crossing the finish line in Skerries ahead of Italian rider Davide Vigano, after a tense sprint finish to the predominantly flat 132.6km stage.
While the An Post Chain Reaction team will claim the headlines with an impressive four stage wins from eight, the plaudits on the day went to Damien Shaw of Louth Team Asea, after the Irish county rider once again challenged for top spot, eventually placing third for the stage, following two second place finishes at stages six and seven.
Yesterday’s route saw the riders begin in Drogheda, before racing through Navan, Ratoath and Garristown, culminating in three laps of a 13.7km circuit of Skerries, in front of an enthusiastic crowd who came out in their hundreds in the glorious sunshine.
For An Post Chain Reaction team manager Kurt Bogaerts, the results exceeded all expectations. “Yeah, it’s a great team performance. It’s amazing, four stage wins, plus we have the points jersey, young jersey, mountain jersey, also second, third and fifth in the General Clasiification. It’s probably our best result ever. We really showed our strength and worked really hard. I had big expectations coming over, but four stage wins, I didn’t expect that.”
For a young team that suffered badly with injuries at the beginning of the season, Bogaerts feels the last week’s results are a great motivation for the team to kick on for the rest of the year. “Everybody really rode to their maximum and took it as a serious event. We had a very hard start to the season, with some bad luck and a bad injury to Aidis. He’s the leader of the team and he broke his elbow at training camp. He had a very complicated six hour operation and that had the morale of the team a bit down. But this week we really raced as a team. Everybody did what they’re expected to do but that’s easier said than done. Every one of our five riders did amazing every day.”
When the Rás began last Sunday in Dunboyne, plenty of eyes were on Ryan Mullen, who went into his first Rás as the current National Road Race and U23 National Time Trial Champion. The 20 year finished yesterday’s race 3rd in the GC, while also claiming the U23 jersey, after what he felt was a tough week of racing, “It was difficult. You’re going full gas all week. Once we started controlling the race it was hard every day.”
Mullen’s season was also troubled by an injury setback early on, and he feels the positive results over the last eight days were important, “It was a step in the right direction for me. I had a slow start to the year with injury, it took me a while to get going and I’m not hitting top form yet.”
Lukas Postleberger of Tirol Cycling Team took first place in the overall General Classification, with a total time of 27hours 38minutes 39seconds. Mullen placed third, 2minutes 10seconds behind the Austrian. Martyn Irvine and Ian Richardson were the other Irish two riders to make the top ten, placing seventh and tenth respectively.
As well as his stage win, Kruopis took the King of the Mountains title. Richardson gave his UCD team the county title, while Aaron Gate won the Points Classification.