Max Stedman showed his class to finish in a select front group as Aussie talent Miles Storer soloed to glory on the fourth stage of the An Post Ras.
The BIKE Channel Canyon man, who lost crucial time in a crash on stage three, crossed the line in 20th position after five categorised climbs blew the race apart on the road to Buncrana.
Earlier, Dexter Gardias had battled away in a seven-man break, scooping points in the mountains competition and ensuring the team enjoyed another productive day in Ireland.
An Post Chain Reaction’s Matthew Teggart, who won the third stage, finished fourth to move into yellow, with JLT Condor’s James Gullen among five other riders on the same time.
Mitchell Webber is now BIKE Channel Canyon‘s best-placed man in the overall. He is 16th at 2min 19sec after finishing in the second group on the road, 2.43 down on the winner.
Storer was the star of the show, though. The 20-year-old, who was 15th on general classification at the Tour Down Under and fifth in the Herald Sun Tour ahead of sixth-placed Chris Froome, making his decisive move on the category one Mamore Gap, 15km from the finish.
Once again the pace was on from the flag drop and, despite numerous attacks, the race was still all together at the 50km mark. Finally, a group of seven managed to gap the peloton. An Post Chain Reaction’s Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz kicked it all off.
After team-mates Alex Richardson, Webber and George Atkins had digs in the past two stages, Gardias’ determination to get up the road paid off this time.
He quickly linked up with Kasperkiewicz, while the group was completed by Gruff Lewis, of Madison Genesis, Joey Walker, of Team Wiggins, Armee de Terre’s Yannis Tssaad, Down Newry’s Marcus Flavin and stage two winner Jan-Willem van Schip, of Delta Cycling Rotterdam.
The break had an advantage of around one minute by the opening KOM at 80km. And it was Lewis who hit the summit of the category three Maghera Beg first, ahead of Gardias and Walker.
The peloton had began to up the tempo, though, and after Lewis had taken the category three Slavery Hill and the category two Old Mountain, they made the catch. Albeit, in much-reduced numbers and without the yellow jersey of Dennis Bakker.
Aussie Michael Storer swept up the points on the penultimate climb, the second category Pinch Mountain, after attacking the thinned out lead group with Jake Sitler, of CCB Velotooler.
Kasperkiewicz, clearly still feeling good after the first breakaway, then bridged across to the duo as they built up an advantage of a 90 seconds in the run towards Mamore Gap.
The category one climb, which stood less than 15km from the finish line in Buncrana, promised to make the all-important final selection and shake out those without genuine GC aspirations.
And so it proved, with just 26 riders, including Stedman, remaining in the main group as they crested Mamore Gap. Ahead of them, Storer had attacked his two companions and launched a solo bid for the line.
He quickly put a minute into Sitler, who crested second. Kasperkiewicz was a further 45 seconds adrift and soon had the chase group breathing down his neck. And there was no catching the Aussie, as he clinched a superb solo success.
Sitler held on for second place, three seconds ahead of Armee de Terre’s Morgan Kneisky who led the bunch home for third. An Post Chain Reaction’s Matthew Teggart, who won stage three, finished fourth and moved into the yellow jersey.
Storer rose to the top of the mountains classification after cresting Mamore Gap in front, while Bakker retained his lead in the points standings. Click here for the full result.