Matt Brammeier (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) has been crowned Irish road race champion for a third time.
The RoadCyclingUK columnist triumphed over a quality field that included AG2R-La Mondiale’s Nicholas Roche on a 167.4km kilometre parcours in Clonmel yesterday (Sun June 24).
The race took place over nine laps of an 18.6 mile circuit held on undulating roads with two steep climbs.
Brammeier and eleven other riders joined Damien Shaw (Lakeside Wheelers) in an early break that left some of the pre-race favourites, including Roche, in the bunch.
With a gap of 53 seconds over the peloton at the end of the first circuit, the bunch was left with work to do.
Roche jumped clear with Sam Bennett (AN Post-Sean Kelly), and the pair were soon joined by Mark Dowling (DID Dunboyne), Peter Hawkins (Team IG-Sigma Sport) and Adam Armstrong (Eurocycles).
After a sustained effort, the quintet caught the leading group on lap four, and Roche launched an immediate attack, shedding Armstrong, but not Brammeier and co.
Martyn Irvine (RTS Racing) was the next to try his luck, but was soon joined by Philip Lavery (Node4-Giordana) and then Roche and Brammeier.
The group of four led a pursuing quartet of Sean Downey and (AN-Post Sean Kelly), Paidi O’Brien (Dan Morrissey Speedy Spokes), Connor McConvey (AN Post-Sean Kelly) and Damien Shaw (Lakeside Wheelers).
The Brammeier-Roche led quartet drove clear of their pursuers, inspiring Roche to launch two attacks, the second on Colonel’s Hill, which shed all but Brammeier. Lavery got back on, and then attacked, building a lead of 13 seconds at the start of the final lap, which grew to more than 20. By the foot of Colonel’s Hill, however, he had been caught.
In the closing five kilometres, Lavery attacked twice, but was caught on both occasions.
With just two kilometres left, Brammeier launched his decisive attack, and remained clear of Roche and Lavery for an emphatic solo victory.
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