Downing powers to win in Ireland
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Friday, August 21, 2009

Downing powers to win in Ireland

by VeloNation Press at 2:45 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
 
British rider Russell Downing of the Candi TV team won the 196 kilometer first stage of the Tour of Ireland from Powerscourt to Waterford.  Second in last year's edition, Downing powered away from the escape group schooling Saxo Bank's duo of Alexander Kolobnev and Matti Breschel, who finished second and third respectively, to once again see the Candi TV rider in the leader's jersey.

The man who hails from Yorkshire will now hope to retain the race lead, something he lost to to Columbia-HTC's Marco Pinotti during the final stage last year.

Last years King of the Mountains winner, Matt Wilson from Team Type 1, managed to overcome some bad luck today and secure enough points to lead the competition.

The biggest crowds of the day were focused on Lance Armstrong. The American it taking his first start in a road race since finishing an impressive third overall in the Tour de France. Armstrong is using his celebrity draw to highlight his Livestrong campaign's cancer initiatives which will lead up to an international cancer summit in Dublin on Monday.

"That's the most important thing," he revealed at the start line.

"We get to race for a few days and then sit down and talk about the global burden," he said.

"We've had a lot of great help and support from the people of Dublin and the people of Ireland."

The seven-time Tour de France winner is competing in the Tour of Ireland for the first time in 17 years, and the occasion saw fans flocking to the opening stage at the foot of the Wicklow mountains, mobbing the champion for autographs and causing a delay for the start. This will be his last race of the year, and his last race in Astana colors.

Astana team boss Johann Bruyneel doesn't see the Irish Tour as a difficult race, but rather a dangerous one in bad weather should hit the narrow roads. The mastermind behind Armstrong's seven Tour de France wins thinks the difficulty won't begin until the peloton hits St Patrick's hill before the finish in Cork on Sunday.

"It's steep. It's completely straight and steep," Armstrong said of the climb.

"Sunday is a tough day, but every day is narrow roads and hills here and there."

The second stage on Saturday covers 198 kilometers from Clonmel to Killarney.

Stage
1. Russell Downing (GBR/CTV) 5h10:37.
2. Alexander Kolobnev (RUS/SAX) 0:5sec.
3. Matti Breschel (DAN/SAX) 0:7.
4. Philip Deignan (IRL/CTT) 0:11.
5. Haimar Zulbedia (ESP/AST) 0:11.
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