Two weeks ago, Donegal hosted four of eight stage finishes of the eagerly anticipated An Post Rás. A fantastic crowd cheered the peloton home in Bundoran for stage three, Buncrana for stage four, Dungloe for stage five and Donegal Town for stage six.
The An Post Rás route took the riders through the heart of Donegal where they faced nearly 500km of rolling hills and breath-taking coastal views. As expected, the county played a crucial part in determining the eventual winner of the general classification with James Gullen (JLT Condor) securing the yellow jersey on stage five in Dungloe and holding onto it until the ceremonial finish in Skerries, Dublin.
Over the course of the week, the peloton faced some of the most difficult ascents in the country including Mamore Gap and Glengesh Pass. Crowds came out in their droves to support the riders with the fantastic weather encouraging school children to local farmers to cheer on the passing peloton.
There were some fantastic stage wins in Donegal, with a very popular Irish winner in Matthew Teggart (An Post Chain Reaction) who took stage three in Bundoran.
Commenting after his win, Teggart said:
“It’s an absolute honour to even ride the Rás never mind win a stage. The crowd were really encouraging me home and pushed me to get the win.”
There was plenty more An Post Chain Reaction joy in Donegal with Regan Gough edging out Cameron Meyer (Australia National Team) to take stage five in the blistering heat of Dungloe. It was Gough’s teammate, Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz who conquered the intense Donegal hikes and climbs the best, taking five of seven categorised climbs on stage six. His superb climbing ensured he finished the day as King of the Mountains which he held onto until the final stage.
Further stage winners in Donegal include Michael Storer (Australia National Team) who took stage four in Buncrana and Yannis Yssadd (France Armée de Terre) who claimed stage six in Donegal town.
The stream of local support throughout Donegal was a delight to see for race director Tony Campbell:
“We were thrilled to return to Donegal for An Post Rás and we would like thank everyone who came out to support. Seeing the crowds at Mamore Gap was wonderful. It makes such a difference for the riders to have a brilliant crowd to cheer them on.”
At the ceremonial finish in Skerries, Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) took home the points classification, Michael O’Loughlin (Britain Team Wiggins) won Under 23 Rider whilst Daire Feeley (Galway Team iTap) took Irish County Rider.
To relive any of the action, check out www.anpost.ie/cycling