RAS REACTION: RICHARDSON BREAKS THROUGH
Plowman Craven’s Simon Richardson has been threatening to win something big all season.
This is the 24-year-old former mountain biker’s first full season on the road and already he’s been third at the Girvan stage race, the Tour of the Reservoir and the Lincoln Grand Prix.
Today he won the fifth stage of the FBD Insurance Ras at Skibbereen, lifting himself up to third place in the process. Read the Ras stage five race report here.
“I’ve had my fair share of third places this year,” said Richardson. “So it was nice to step up and get a win.”
Richardson had a slice of luck at the end when the last man able to stay with him, the Irish champion David O’Loughlin of the Pezula team, suffered a front wheel puncture with five minutes remaining.
But you make your own luck, they say, and Richardson had certainly grafted for the opportunity.
He bridged across to the three early escapees and formed a powerful-looking four-man break including O’Loughlin, Kinesis rider Kit Gilham, who is rapidly becoming the revelation of this Ras, and Dutchman Patrick Kos.
“It was a beautiful stage, actually. The roads were fantastic for racing on and we worked really well together. We got about five minutes at the most and for a while I was the yellow jersey on the road.
“On the last of the five classified climbs I attacked and O’Loughlin came with me. We were co-operating really well. I was riding for the yellow jersey at the time, and O’Loughlin was going for the stage.
“Then the poor chap punctured so I pressed on to take the stage. It’s never nice to win when someone else punctures, though.”
Richardson’s streak of third places hasn’t demoralised him, far from it. “This is my first year on the road properly. Every race I do I am learning heaps from. If it had gone on all year and third was the best I could do I’d have started to worry but I always thought if I kept working hard and learning from the situations I’ve found myself in I’d get a win.
“This is my first Ras and I’m really impressed. The roads are great, the crowds are big. I suppose you could say the racing is like eight one-day races with an overall classification, it’s fast, it goes from kilometre zero and it’s unpredictable.
“There’s a bit of experience in the team. Sandy Gilchrist is managing us this week and he’s been here a million times and it’s Evan Oliphant’s fourth Ras.”
Richardson is up to sixth overall in a top ten that is turning into a huge battle between the British riders and the Irish.
Ireland’s David McCann still leads overall but is tied on time with Stena-Rapha-Condor-Recycling’s Chris Newton. McCann leads by virtue of his better stage placings and came in three places in front of Newton again today.
If he’s going to win overall, Newton will have to gain time.
McCann’s team-mate Roger Aiken s in third place. Newton has Rob Partridge fourth and Dean Downing eighth. Now Plowman Craven have two men in the top six – Alex Higham in fifth at just nine seconds and Richardson sixth at 54 seconds.
Andrew Bye of the Surrey League Racing Team is the surprise package in the top ten, sitting a very impressive seventh.
“At one stage I thought I might be able to take the yellow jersey,” said Richardson. “But the chase, I am assuming from the Ireland team and Rapha, was really strong at the end.
“But it puts me right back in the mix and people have said that you can jump right up the overall with a couple of good days. It’s a long stage tomorrow and I’ll try to recover before it all kicks off again on Saturday’s important stage.”
Stena-Rapha-Condor-Recycling found themselves doing a lot of chasing today. “The onus was on the team of the yellow jersey [Ireland] to chase,” said Rapha’s boss John Herety. “With no reaction from them we had to chase instead, which I wasn’t happy about.
“We brought the gap down [to 1-41] by the finish which meant we pretty much stayed as we were on general classification.”
Stage five report: Richardson wins for Plowman Craven
Stage four report: McCann wins, Newton punctures, yellow jersey Cassidy crashes out
Reaction: Chris Newton on his stage win
Stage three report: Newton takes the stage
Stage two report: Dean Downing beats Evan Oliphant at the finish
Stage one report: Isle of Man's Hanson wins Ras first stage
2008 FBD Insurance Ras preview