Quadruple Tour de France stage winner Mark Cavendish (Columbia) underlined his sprint king status by winning the first stage of the 2008 Tour of Ireland today (Wednesday, August 27).

The Manxman beat Garmin-Chipotle fastman Julian Dean to the line at the end of the stage from Dublin to Waterford, with Britain’s Dean Downing (Rapha-Condor-Recycling) raising his game against the international field by taking fifth.

EARLY ACTION
A total of 110 riders rolled away from Hanover Quay in Dublin’s docklands this morning on the first stage of the five-day 2008 Tour of Ireland. The 192kms to Waterford was played out under overcast skies and took in some of Ireland’s typically heavy, rolling roads which included four categorised climbs.

A break of four riders went away after around 35kms and included Martyn Irvine (Pezula), David George (MTN Energade), Travis Meyer (SouthAustralia.com-AIS) and Matt Wilson (Type 1 Cycling Team). Their lead went up to a maximum of around eight minutes but was controlled by the chasing peloton lead by Team Columbia and Garmin-Chipotle.

By Mount Leinster, the first category climb at 115kms, the four leaders had become three with Irvine dropping off the pace on the exposed slopes of the mist-topped fell.

With around 25kms to the finish the three had became two with only Matt Wilson and Travis Meyer heading the race now with a slim lead from the chasing pack.

With the efforts of Team Columbia and Garmin the two were picked up in the closing 5kms and it was a bunch sprint down the crowd lined quay front in Waterford. The familar blue jersey of Mark Cavendish (Columbia) burst from the pack to take the stage.

Cavendish goes into tomorrow’s second 158.4km stage from Thurles to Loughrea wearing the race leader’s yellow jersey.

The UCI 2.1-ranked event finishes on Sunday, August 31, in Cork.

TOUR OF IRELAND: STAGE ONE RESULTS
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) Columbia 192.1km in 5hours 20secs

2. Julian Dean (NZ) Garmin-Chipotle
3. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Joker-Bianchi
4. Boy Van Poppel (Ned) Rabobank
5. Dean Downing (GB) Rapha-Condor-Recycling
6. Kurt De Schrooder (Bel) An Post- Sean Kelly
7. Russell Downing (GB) Pinarello Canditv
8. Nikolas Maes (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen
9. Kurt Hovelijnck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen
10. Zakkari Dempster (Aus) SouthAustralia.com-AIS all same time.

Tour of Ireland 2008Mark Cavendish and team-mate Bernhard Eisel before the stage

Tour of Ireland 2008David Millar in the feedzone

Tour of Ireland 2008Dan Martin

Tour of Ireland 2008Break on stage one

Tour of Ireland 2008Dean Downing obviously felt good today and finished fifth

Tour of Ireland 2008Gear trouble for Malcolm Elliott

Tour of Ireland 2008Mount Leinster

Tour of Ireland 2008Young race fans watch the action

imageMark Cavendish powers to win the opening stage of the 2008 Tour of Ireland

imageMark Cavendish pulls on the race leader’s yellow jersey

TOUR OF IRELAND
Tour of Ireland stage one photo gallery
Tour of Ireland preview
Tour of Ireland start list