The Tipperary team enjoyed an amazing start to the 2013 An Post Rás as Conor Dunne rode to an incredible victory on stage one of Ireland’s biggest bike race.
The race itself is Ireland’s only fully fledged professional bike race and this year’s event includes professional teams from Ireland, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Czech Republic, as well as several county amateur teams, most notably the Tipperary Iverk Produce Carrick Wheelers Team.
Remarkably, this is not the Tipperary team’s first time winning the opening stage of this international event, as 21 years ago the late Bobby Power won the opening stage of the 1992 Rás into Carrick-on-Shannon.
Dunne, an Irish Londoner, who is based in Belgium for much of this season, was successfully drafted into the Tipperary Iverk Produce Team by the experienced Rás team manager Paul Lonergan, a move that has already paid huge dividends.
The opening stage of this year’s An Post Rás was raced at break neck speeds, with attacks and break-away groups forming, regrouping and being caught for the opening 100kms of the race. Indeed, Dunne was very active and part of the action from early on, involving himself in a number of break-away attempts that also included former Tipperary Team stage winner, Carrick-on-Suir’s Sam Bennett.
However, none of these moves were able to establish themselves, and the peleton remained largely together with 30km remaining.
Then, as the race entered the final 20km, Dunne of the Tipperary Team attacked and went clear of the main bunch, taking Michael Northey of the UK Nord4Giordana Team for company.
The duo opened up a one minute advantage very quickly and with a time check of 1:03mins with 10km to go, they had a fighting chance of taking the victory. As the kilometres to the stage finish in Longford counted down, the leading duo still had 50 seconds with 5km to go and things were beginning to look very good for the county rider Dunne and UK professional Northey.
In the final few hundred metres, Dunne managed to out sprint his break-away companion to take an excellent victory into Longford and bag Stage 1 of the 2013 An Post Rás. In addition to this, Dunne’s victory on the opening stage means that the Tipperary Team rider held the race leader’s yellow jersey heading into the second stage of this eight day event.