Stijn Vandenbergh (Unibet.com) won the Tour of Ireland on Sunday as Marco Marcato (Team LPR) won the final stage, outsprinting two breakaway companions on the finishing circuit in Dublin.
Vandenbergh finished safely in ninth place to clinch the overall with Marcus Ljungqvist (Team CSC) second and Aaron Olsen (T-Mobile) third.
David O’Loughlin (Navigators Insurance) put the hammer down just after the intermediate sprint in Kinnegad, some 60km into the 147km stage from Athlone to the Irish capital, where Matti Breschel (Team CSC) scored five points to take the lead in the points competition.
Marcato and Thomas Berkhout (Rabobank) went with O’Loughlin and the three flew across the counties of West Meath and Meath on flat roads with a tail wind, leaving the bunch more than five minutes behind by the time the leaders reached the sprint point at Lucan.
The margin was down to four minutes and tumbling as the leaders entered Dublin for the finishing circuits on Merrion Square. But when the field entered the circuit just ahead of the trio, race officials allowed the leaders to go past the bunch, leaving them to a straight-up fight for the stage victory.
Thousands of home fans around the city were screaming their support for O’Loughlin with eight laps to go on the finishing circuit. Berkhout attacked on the penultimate corner and O’Loughlin set off in pursuit with Marcato on his wheel. Then the 23-year-old Italian took the tow from the Irishman and catapulted himself past both his rivals to take the win.
Tour of Ireland
1. Marco Marcato, Team LPR, 147km in 3:04:20
2. Thomas Berkhout, Rabobank, same time
3. David O’Loughlin, Navigators Insurance, at 0:08
4. Boy Van Poppel, Rabobank, at 02:30
5. Matti Breschel, Team CSC, s.t.
6. Frantisek Rabon, T-Mobile, s.t.
7. Joachim Bohler, Team Maxbo-Bianchi, s.t.
8. Jeremy Hunt, Unibet.com, s.t.
9. Stijn Vandenbergh, Unibet.com, s.t.
10. Michael Ford, South Australia AIS, s.t.
1. Stijn Vandenbergh, Unibet.com, 21:20:21
2. Marcus Ljungqvist, Team CSC, at 0:20
3. Aaron Olson, T-Mobile, at 0:21
4. Wesley Sulzberger, South Australia AIS, at 0:24
5. Pieter Jacobs, Unibet.com, at 0:27
6. Craig Lewis, Team Slipstream, at 0:28
7. Glenn Bak, Murphy & Gunn, at 0:43
8. Valeriy Kobzarenko, Navigators Insurance, at 2:37
9. Thomas Berkhout, Rabobank, at 11:03
10. Marco Marcato, Team LPR, at 12:30