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Marcato triumphs in Dublin finale

26 August 2007




Photos: Graham Watson

Marco Marcato (Team LPR) took the victory on the final stage of the Tour of Ireland when it reached Dublin on Sunday 26th August. The 23-year-old Italian had the best legs of the trio that had escaped from the clutches of the main field at the 60km mark after the race had left Athlone in the morning sunshine.
 
David O’Loughlin (Navigators Insurance) had put the hammer down just after the intermediate sprint in Kinnegad where Matti Breschel (Team CSC) secured five points to go into the lead in the points competition. Marcato and Thomas Berkhout (Rabobank) went with O’Loughlin’s move and they flew across the Counties of West Meath and Meath on flat roads with a tail wind. O’Loughlin was determined to produce a winning performance after he suffered broken spokes while he was in the break on the previous stage.
 
The bunch was over five minutes behind by the time the leaders reached the  sprint point at Lucan but the three brave riders didn’t compete with each other for the points, preferring to work together to stay clear.  The chasing  bunch were riding tempo behind to hold the lead at a reachable distance. Yesterday’s stage winner Edvald Boasson Hagen (Maxbo Bianchi) mopped up the final sprint points in the battle of the sprinters at Lucan.
 
The leading trio entered Ireland’s capital city of Dublin ahead of the field but the lead was less than four minutes and tumbling - the break looked doomed. They say fortune favours the brave and that was certainly true in Dublin’s fair city when the leaders effectively lapped the field as they entered the finishing circuit just in front of them. Race officials allowed the leaders to go past the bunch to leave a straight fight between the three riders for the stage victory in the race sponsored by Fáilte Ireland. 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. Irish hearts were broken as Marcato took the tow from the Irishman and catapulted himself past both riders to take the chequered flag with a beautiful backdrop of Georgian Dublin in Merrion Square.
 
Stijn Vandenberg (Unibet.com) finished safely in ninth place to win the overall race with Marcus Ljungqvist (Team CSC) second and Aaron Olsen (T-Mobile) third. 23-year-old Vandenbergh from Sweden also won the white jersey for the under-25 classification.
 
Boy Van Poppel (Rabobank) won the bunch sprint and Breschel followed behind to secure his victory in the An Post green jersey competition.
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