Southland cyclist Cameron Karwowski was pipped for a place on the podium in a frantic final sprint on a dramatic stage three of the An Post Ras Tour of Ireland today.
Karwowski, supported strongly by his BikeNZ-Pure Black Racing under-23 team-mates today in the lumpy 144km stage to Westport, positioned himself well for the sprint, finishing in fourth place in a photo finish.
It was a day of drama with several bad crashes, including one that ended the tour for teenage Auckland rider Dion Smith, who broke his arm and wrist. He will spend the night in hospital before surgery tomorrow.
Reigning champion Gediminas Bagdonas (An Post Sean Kelly Team) claimed the win just ahead of opening stage-winner Marcin Bialoblocki (Britain Girodana) after he recovered from a crash and with the help of team-mates, rode back on to the peloton over the final 40km.
After riding patiently at the back of the peloton and when they were eventually reunited, The An Post Sean Kelly riders attacked aggressively as a group with 7km to go. Karwowski responded in the elite group of 28 riders and positioned himself well for the final sprint.
"It was a fantastic performance from Cameron and another outstanding effort from the team to support him on what was a demanding day," coach Dan Healey said.
"The climbs were difficult and there were so many bad crashes. It is a real shame for Dion, who was really enjoying a strong tour."
Karwowski moved to second place on the overall classification for under-23 riders, and is in 12th place on overall classification, 28sec down on leader Pirman Lang (Switzerland), who finished in the peloton to retain the yellow jersey despite trialling the leaders by more than 2min at one point.
Of the other BikeNZ-PBR riders, Scott Creighton was 35th, finishing in the second bunch 7sec behind the leading group after a strong supporting role. Southlander Piet Bulling and Taylor Gunman were in the packm 3min 17sec down with the team reduced to four riders.
Today's 145km stage from Gort to Westport proved testing with three late climbs in quick succession and the first category one climb of the eight day event.
Tomorrow's fourth stage is mostly flat over 135km to Bundoran.
Results, An Post Ras Tour of Ireland, stage 3 Gort to Westport, 144km: Gediminas (LTU, An Post Sean Kelly) 3:09.03, 1; Marcin Bialoblocki (POL, Britain Giordana) same time, 2; Roy Eefting (NED, Koga) st, 3; Cameron Karwowski (NZL) 4. Also New Zealanders: Scott Creighton at 7 sec, 35; Piet Bulling at 3:17, 83; Taylor Gunman st, 85.
General classification after 3 stages: Pirmin Lang (SUI) 9:52.00, 1; James Moss (GBR) same time, 2; Richard Handley (GBR) st, 3. Also: Karwowski at 28s, 12, Creighton at 35s, 40; Bulling at 3:45, 69; Gunman st, 70.
Under-23 overall: Handley 9:52.00, 1; Karwowski at 28s, 2; M Pedersen (BWC) st, 3.
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