Templemore, Ireland (May 20, 2007) In its first day of racing in Europe, the Kodak Gallery Pro Cycling Team, presented by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. came out swinging capturing the King of the Mountain (KOM) Jersey, fourth place on the stage and placing one rider in the top five of the general classification.
On an uncharacteristically sunny day, the field set off from Naas after a brief morning transit from Dublin. Enthusiastic crowds assembled to greet the race as the riders took a neutralized parade ride through the village streets. Once outside of town, it didn’t take long for the racing action to heat up. Covering an early break, Jesse Anthony found himself in a move that would prove decisive in the team’s strong early showing.
Stage one featured three intermediate sprints with the only time bonuses of the entire stage race. The first came only 7.3 miles into the race and by the time it approached, Jesse Anthony was in a break with five other riders. Taking third in the sprint, Anthony gained a one second time bonus. The collective effort of the breakaway riders racing for the intermediate sprint helped solidify their lead advantage over the field.
As the race approached the day’s only KOM summit, and final intermediate time bonus on top of “The Cut,” the breakaway had stretched its lead to 1:30 on the field. With approximately 600 meters to the summit, Danish rider Thomas Japp attacked without response. Moments later, Kodak Gallery’s Anthony launched a strong move from the rear of the breakaway group and rode away on the edge of the barely 10-foot wide hillside road. Anthony motored past Japp and was chased by Ricardo Van der Velde of the Dutch Rabobank Team. Anthony crested the climb with a comfortable gap, won the KOM points and collected a three second time bonus.
Not far after the bottom of the mountain’s descent, the breakaway’s advantage grew to its largest of the day at over three minutes. Not wanting to find itself fighting to regain lost time, American squad Kelly Benefit Strategies moved riders to the front of the main field and began a chase that would ultimately catch the breakaway within the final ten miles.
As the pace increased and the field of 145 riders sped into the final six miles of the finishing circuit in Templemore, the Kodak Gallery Pro Cycling Team moved to the front and dictated the pace. The race ended in a group sprint that saw riders surge seven-wide across the entire finishing stretch. In the end, Mart Ojavee of the Estonia Kalev Chocolate Team crossed the line first. Less than a bike length separated Ojavee from Dominique Rollin who was Kodak Gallery’s highest placed rider in fourth.
After the race, team director, Kurt Stockton shared his thoughts on the day, “Thanks to great preparation and a strong group of riders, the whole day went very smoothly. The guys rode exactly as they needed to on unfamiliar, narrow roads and with a field of riders they don’t know. We are excited to see Jesse in the KOM Jersey and to have our riders sitting so well in the overall. Add to that, surviving our first day in the car with our Irish caravan driver who missed his calling as a rally driver, and it was a near perfect day!”
Stage two will find the race negotiating the roads of central Ireland as the racers heads west from the village of Templemore to Loughrea, in County Galway.