Friday's 151km stage from Millstreet to Carrick-on-Suir started fast with a breaks straight from the gun. First from Mikael Segarsall of Scandinavia Bianchi Nordic with Paul Healion (Dublin Usher) and Philip Cassidy (Meath Lee Strand) and then, after these riders were reeled in, from Dennis Lynch (Ireland Thornton's Recycling), Mark Lovatt (Yorkshire Murphy & Gunn), Segarsell and the yellow jersey Slovenian team's Branko Filip.

The pack were really travelling though, covering 17 miles in the first 30 minutes and it wasn't until a break by Lovatt's team mate, John Tanner and Eugene Moriarty (Ireland Thornton's Recycling) that a break stuck. These two were then joined by Lovatt and David O'Loughlin from Team Ireland who pushed on hard dropping Moriarty at Mallow, 25 miles into the stage.

The three riders then rode fast with the help of a slight tailwind building a lead up of over three minutes before the first category three climb to The Pike some fifty miles later. Shortly after however the Kazakhstan team repeated the previous day's tactics and took the lead on the front of the chasing peleton from the Solvenian team who'd been working all day to minimize the damage. The gap was down to a minute by the 10K to go mark.

Up the road Lovatt's luck ran out for the second time in two days, he punctured with 5K left, leaving just O'Loughlin and Tanner to battle it out to the line. Without Lovatt, Tanner and O'Loughlin ploughed on but the effort put in by the Kazakhstan and Slovenian riders meant that Bonca, the yellow jersey, had just a 46- second deficit and rested legs as he hit the hairpin at the bottom of the short but steep climb of Seskin Hill and the finish. Bonca and David McCann (Ireland Thornton's Recycling) rocketed up the hill in pursuit catching Tanner at 200m to go. Finishing second, some 19 seconds behind O'Loughlin, Bonca keeps his yellow jersey by just three seconds. McCann finished third with Tanner fourth ahead of Dermot Nally (Galway).

In the overall classification, with second-placed rider Petter Renang dropping out during the stage, it's now tight at the top with Bonca, O'Loughlin, McCann and Nally inside a minute. Yesterday's winner and green jersey, Malcolm Elliott (Yorkshire Murphy & Gunn) finished 12th moving him up to fifth just outside the minute but he loses the green jersey to McCann for the final road stage before the race around Dublin's Phoenix Park on Sunday.

With it all to play for still we can expect some serious racing from the Irish riders on Saturday and the Slovenians will again be pushed hard to defend Bonca's lead. Yorkshire Murphy & Gunn will be keeping an eye on the race also. They were unlucky today and will want to place highly before Sunday's stage.

Saturday's stage is a 149km mountainous route, leaving Sean Kelly's home town of Carrick-on-Suir for Tullow. On the way it takes in five category three, one category two and three category one climbs which should favour the strong riders.

Friday's result:

1. O'Loughlin,David (Ireland Thorntons Recycling) 3h25'47"

2. Bonca,Valter (Slovenia Perutnina) +19"

3. McCann,David (Ireland Thorntons Recycling) s/t

4. Tanner,John (Yorkshire Murphy & Gunn) +25"

5. Nally,Dermot (Galway) +31"

6. Cohnen,Stefan (Germany ComNet Senges) s/t

7. Griffin,Paul (Kerry) s/t

8. Schild,Rene (Germany ComNet Senges) +35"

9. Veness,John (Surrey Racing League) s/t

10. Iglinskiy,Valentin (Kazakhstan) s/t

General Classification

1. Bonca,Valter (Slovenia Perutnina) 22h27'49"

2. O'Loughlin,David (Ireland Thorntons Recycling) +03"

3. McCann,David (Ireland Thorntons Recycling) +23"

4. Nally,Dermot (Galway) +59"

5. Elliott,Malcolm (Yorkshire Murphy & Gunn) +01'08"

6. Lynch,Denis (Ireland Thorntons Recycling) +01'10"

7. Malarczyk,Anthony (Wales Stena Line) +02'14"

9. Lergard,Tobias (Scandinavia Bianchi Nordic) +02'19"

10. Lovatt,Mark (Yorkshire Murphy & Gunn) +02'28"

Points Competition

1. McCann,D 57

2. Elliott,M 56

3. Nally,D 51