Sligo, Ireland (May 21, 2007) Showing a bit of its strength, the Kodak Gallery Pro Cycling Team, presented by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. stamped its mark on stage three of the FBD Insurance Ras. Team racer, Dominique Rollin had a convincing stage win, extended his lead in the Points contest and moved up to third in the general classification. Jesse Anthony, moved into the race leader’s yellow jersey, extended his lead in the King of the Mountain (KOM) contest and took the lead in the competition for best young rider.
The field rolled out of the village of Loughrea under dark skies and with a sense of anticipation that the local talent would begin to show its hand today on the narrow roads of County Galway. The attacks came early and often and the Kodak Gallery Pro Cycling Team rode at the front of the field covering moves and waiting for the right collection of riders to form a successful breakaway.
Approximately 55 kilometers into the race and after one breakaway containing Kodak Gallery rider Ben Raby was reeled back in, a group of 21 racers got away. Jesse Anthony and Josh Thornton represented Kodak Gallery in the move. As the bunch began to stretch out their advantage, a second group of 11 racers, led by Mark Walters and Dominique Rollin rode off of the front of the peloton and bridged to the breakaway.
Keenly aware of the Kodak Gallery riders’ high standing in the general classification and having born witness to the strength of Rollin and Anthony, teams in the breakaway largely refused to cooperate in a concerted effort to increase their advantage over the field. Recognizing this, another group of riders bridged to the breakaway from the peloton. Simultaneously, four riders moved off the front of the group to gain an advantage that dangled at approximately one minute heading into the day’s final kilometers.
With 40 kilometers left in the stage, Thornton, Walters, Anthony and Rollin moved to the front and set a painful tempo that drove a nearly nine minute wedge between their group and the peloton which contained the race leader’s yellow jersey. The pace at the front also cracked one rider in the lead group of four sending him backwards, diminishing their combined strength and sealing their fate.
As the chase group approached the day’s only KOM climb, approximately 12 kilometers from the finish, the time gap had been shaved to 45-seconds. Several attacks were launched and Anthony calmly followed each before propelling himself clear just 100 meters from the summit to capture the KOM points for 4th over the top.
Racing now for the finish line, Walters, Anthony, Thornton and Rollin set tempo and protected against rogue moves that could cost them the stage victory. As the final kilometers ticked away, Kodak Gallery rode at the front setting up Rollin who rocketed into downtown Sligo to take the stage win by a bike length. Nearly 20 minutes later, the group containing the yellow jersey rolled across the line and stopped the clock.
After the awards ceremony where the 21-year old Anthony received his first ever yellow jersey, he shared his thoughts, “I’m really excited and looking forward to trying to defend the jersey for the rest of the week. It’s a big deal for me and l am looking forward to wearing the yellow tomorrow! We’re now focusing on keeping it fun and continuing to doing our best.”
Team director, Kurt Stockton, shared Anthony’s enthusiasm adding, “I think its great for the team and for Jesse! It is a great honor for Jesse to hold the leader’s jersey in such a prestigious international stage race, especially at his young age. Keeping the jersey will be a challenge, but the experience of veterans Mark Walters and Josh Thornton will be invaluable in the days ahead. In our first event in Europe, our riders have risen to the occasion and exceeded all expectations - we’re looking forward to the racing getting more difficult over the next few stages.”
Stage 4 will see the race travel from Sligo north to Bunbeg, County Donegal.