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2007 NEWS

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team survives brutal stage 5, anthony in second AT fdb insurance ras

Bauncrana, Ireland (May 24, 2007) On an epic day in the FBD Insurance Ras, the Kodak Gallery Pro Cycling Team weathered steady rain, howling winds and a concerted effort to unseat their hold on the front of the race. At the end of the stage, and after braving Ireland’s most difficult climb, race leader Jesse Anthony dropped to third in the general classification 36 seconds behind the new race leader. Anthony will ride in the white Best Young Rider jersey and Dominique Rollin in the green Points Leader’s jersey. With three stages remaining, the team has three riders within striking distance of the lead.

In the morning when the Team arrived at the staging area in Dungloe Soverlooking the rugged Atlantic coast, a heavy fog was beginning the transformation from drizzle to a steady rain. The winds coming off the ocean were so strong, two flags on display at the host hotel had torn eyelets and were blown straight out to the east. Riders from around the world milled around in winter jackets and riding gear and there was an atmosphere of both anticipation and apprehension.  

After a two kilometer neutral parade out of the small village, the field hit the race start and immediately faced a blistering attack into the crosswinds by the Irish Murphy & Gunn and German Thuringer Energy teams. As the field raced toward the day’s first KOM which began at the seven kilometer mark, the field shattered under the immediate pressure. Only minutes into the race the roadway was littered with small groups of riders strung out with the stress of four consecutive days of racing on full display. Riders from the Kodak Gallery Pro Cycling Team controlled the early attacks and set up Jesse Anthony who sprinted to take the day’s first KOM.

Over the top of the climb, one man attacked and formed a small gap on the field. He was joined by two others moments later and by two more over the next few kilometers. Soon, the five men joined together and focused their efforts on escaping the grasp Kodak Gallery has had on the field for the first four stages.

For the remainder of the stage, all five Kodak Gallery riders, including two who suffered though a bout of food poisoning during the stage, drove the pace in full pursuit of the race leaders. After several intermediate climbs, the race approached the legendary Mamore Gap, Ireland’s steepest road. The roads leading to the climb were so narrow that cars in the cavalcade had to drive precariously close to the edge of the road surface to allow cyclists and support motorcycles past. After one particularly narrow section lined by tall bushes, riders emerged from a strong left-hand turn to face a series of switch-back turns that climbed violently towards a second and third pitch, each steeper than the last.

The strongest riders in race ground to a near halt as they fought to keep their bicycles moving upward into the dumping clouds. Dozens of hearty fans lined the road to witness the epic struggle and to cheer the racers. Behind, the race caravan crept upwards through the rain, fog and acrid smell of burning clutches and overheating motorcycles.

Clear of the summit, racers hurtled themselves towards the finish line at speeds approaching 60 mph. At the end of the stage, Nico Graf (Thuringer Energy) crossed the line first and was closely followed by Paidi O’Brein (Murphy & Gunn) and Ricardo Van der Velde (Netherlands). Anthony arrived in 10th position at 1:22 back. With his previous time advantage, Anthony dropped to 3rd place in the general classification, only 36 seconds out of yellow. Teammate Dominique Rollin rode impressively for a large sprinter, arriving at the line in 17th position 1:46 back and landing in 6th overall only 1:04 down. Mark Walters is less than three minutes back.

After the race, Rollin offered his perspective on the difficult climbing stage, “Today I felt like an elephant climbing a tree. The race is still wide open and I still have a good lead on the green jersey. Hopefully on Friday’s stage, I can increase that lead and maybe grab another stage win.”

Team director, Kurt Stockton spoke of the test the stage presented, “Today was a true ‘hard men of the Ras’ day! Anyone who even finished today was a champion. I am very proud of our guys - we defended the yellow jersey with honor. Jesse didn’t leave anything on the course – right down to taking the last corner of the race with a foot out of the pedal and sliding sideways to avoid a rider who crashed in front of him. There are a lot of tender legs in the field thanks to the efforts of our guys today. We’re excited for the next three days of racing.”

The Ras continues on Friday with Stage-6 from Buncrana to Derry.





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