Nicolai Nielsen sprinted to glory on stage one of the An Post Ras as BIKE Channel Canyon’s hopefuls all rolled over the line safe in the main group.
Nielsen, who won the Ronde van Overijssel earlier this season and finished sixth on general classification at the Tour de Normandie, sprinted to glory from the remnants of the day’s breakaway.
The Dane, who rides for the Riwal Platform Cycling team, had earlier pinched the first intermediate sprint before beating Dennis Bakker, of Delta Cycling Rotterdam, in the finale in Longford.
Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz, of An Post Chain Reaction, was third with Thomas Rostollon, of Armee de Terre, fourth before team Wiggins sprinter Chris Latham led home the peloton, 16 seconds adrift.
Dexter Gardias, Max Stedman, George Atkins, Mitchell Webber and Alex Richardson were all ensconced in the peloton and, with bonus seconds factored in, will resume their challenge at 31 seconds on stage two on Monday.
The day’s breakaway took more than an hour to form. And when it finally did, the riders had covered 47.9km in the opening 60 minutes of action in the 65th edition of the Ras.
Kasperkiewicz started things off. He was quickly joined by Rostollon and Bakker. The group then swelled to six when Alex Blain, of Madison Genesis, Nielsen and Cycling Ulster’s Christopher McGlinchey bridged the gap.
As these six began to build their advantage a quartet of chasers attempted to join in but Neon Velo’s Marc Potts, Seán Lacey, of Aqua Blue Sport, Strata3 VeloRevolution’s Simon Ryan and Richard Maes, of Kerry Killarney never made contact.
Nielsen took the first hot spot sprint in Athboy before Bakker jumped clear of his breakaway companions to clinch the KOM on the category three Lough Crew.
His efforts were enough to earn him the jersey as soon the JLT Condor team began lining out the peloton in a bid to control the leaders at a little over three minutes.
Blain, who was runner-up in the opening prime, took the second sprint in Oldcastle ahead of McGlinchey as the peloton drifted to four minutes behind.
With little more than 30km to go, suddenly the pace in the peloton was ramped up. Team Wiggins were among those to put the hammer down but they struggled to make any early inroads.
Blain took the final hot spot sprint at Granard, this time ahead of Nielsen, as the chase group were finally swept up by a marauding bunch with 20km to go.
McGlinchey had already lost contact when Blain faded following his sprint effort, leaving a quartet up the road attempting to hold off the peloton.
With an advantage hovering around the two-minute mark as the leaders entered the final 10km, it looked increasingly like they would contest victory.
And so it was, with Rostollon the first man to attack with one kilometre to the finish in Longford. He was quickly brought back, though, before Nielsen sprinted to success.
Latham then took the bunch kick to finish fifth ahead of Robert McCarthy, of JLT Condor. Click here for full results.
Stage two sees the riders negotiate 142.9km from Longford to Newport. You can follow live updates of the action at anpost.ie