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Friday 9 December 2016

Postlberger takes title as Rás ends in thrilling finish

Aidis Kruopis (An Post Chain Reaction) stormed to a final stage victory on this year's An Post Rás winning an electrifying sprint to the line ahead of Davide Vigano (Team IDEA) and county rider Damian Shaw (Louth Team Asea), who finished in second and third place.

The glory, however, belonged to Lukas Postlberger as the Tirol Cycling Team rider maintained his lead at the top of the general classification rankings to claim the coveted yellow jersey and deservedly be crowned Rás champion.

The action exploded from the off with a lead break of 12 including Kruopis and last year's winner Clemens Fankhauser attacking inside the first ten minutes.

The lead group proved to be the break of the day with the dozen riders working efficiently to manufacture a 1 min 15 secs lead coming into the Newtown category three climb, the first of five grueling ascents.

The bunch, controlled by Postlberger's Tirol team, began to slowly reel them in, reducing the deficit to 40 seconds going in to the first of three laps of the Black Hills category three climb.

Lithuanian Kruopis was in no mood to hang around however and attacked out front, being pursued only by Vigano and Grivell-Mellor. The latter however, was not able to maintain the furious pace and was dropped with two laps remaining.

The duo opened up a one-minute lead as they approached the final lap of the seaside town. It was then that Shaw decided to make his move and a lung-bursting effort by the Mullingar man saw him close the gap to just 15 seconds.

But Kruopis, who showed his class to stay the course and secure his second stage victory of this year's race.

Yesterday capped a magnificent week for the An Post outfit, securing four stage wins with four riders also finishing in the top ten.

After a bad crash on yesterday's stage, Austrian Postlberger showed true grit and guile to come through the final day still in yellow.

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