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M. Donnelly Junior Tour of Ireland - NE

Ireland, August 3-8, 2004

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Stage 3 - August 5: Waterford - Waterford, 57 miles

Stannard breaks Dutch deadlock

By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent/Evening Herald/Sunday Independent

They looked invincible as they won back to back stages of the M Donnelly Junior Tour and the supreme confidence of the Dutch team was in the air, but literally they came back to earth with a bang yesterday when the overall was wrestled from them.

It took a young English first year junior, Ian Stannard from Milton Keynes, that brought reality into the event. Last year's M Donnelly Junior Tour was all about Kai Reus and it looked as though the pattern was re-emerging yet again when the proceedings were opened with Thjis van Amerongen and Arjen de Batt winning the opening two stages.

Initially, a group of eight including the stage winner Robert Gesink from Holland moved ahead shortly after the start yesterday. When the lead steadily started to increase their was an injection of pace which saw the bunch stretched out in one long line with one aim of nullifying the lead group which was eventually ended on the approach to Tramore. Unfortunately the Green points jersey Geneal Conte from France and Andrew Tennant from BC West Midlands were involved with a slight altercation with a vehicle which ended their involvement in this year's JT.

It was very much in evidence for virtually 90% of the proceedings on a course, which afforded the opportunity to the principals to show their mettle, that the overnight leader Argen de Baat was not savouring the thought of a 55-mile stage with a start and finish in Waterford. He literally failed to make an impression on the stage, with the exception of a foray forward, which livened up the bunch on the approach to the climb at the 'Pike' (33 miles) outside Dungarvan.

Also it was obvious that climbs were taking their toll as evidenced by the shelling out of a number of participants who were lacking in the climbing department. Still there was no lacking of activity at the head of the race but the overnight race leader Arjen de Batt was conspicuous by his absence. All during the forays out front, he was the one who was just content to observe matters from virtually the rere of the main bunch.

Whilst he may have missed the boat, fortunately for him, he had a number of teammates up front. The bunch had failed to react to a group of 12 who had gone ahead just before Shandon (30 miles) and their advantage was see-sawing as there were sporadic efforts to peg them back.

In the end it came down to a sprint between the break on the outskirts of Waterford with Robert Geskin getting the verdict. Safely in that group also was Ian Stannard who had a better accumulative time for the three stages and he goes into the race leaders jersey for today's stage around Carrick-on-Suir ahead of Peter Williams of the BC North West Division and Pieter Henning from South Africa who in the last two days has shaped up as a potential overall winner.

Mark Nestor and Martin Munroe of the Stena Line Irish outfit plus Derek Burke of the Swords McNally Joinery team are still in very much in the mix as to the final outcome of this the 27th edition of the junior tour.

As a first year junior, Ian indeed has the inkling to prove himself as a potential professional and he admires the German Jan Ullrich. He finished third in the recent British Junior Championship and a good performance here would warrant his selection for the Junior Worlds, which are being held in Verona, Italy next month.


1 Robert Geskin (Holland)                    2.05.05
2 J. van Heerdan (South Africa)
3 P. Williams (BC. North West)
4 R. Muscat (Belgium)
5 D. Martin (Great Britain)
6 F. Wierstra (Holland)
Overall after three stages:
1 Ian Stannard (Great Britain)               4.25.56
2 P. Williams (BC. North West)                  0.08
3 H. Pieter (South Africa)                      0.10
4 T. van Amerongen (Holland)                    1.09
5 D. Martin (Great Britain)                     1.12
6 Robert Geskin (Holland)                       1.16
Points classification
1 R. Muscat (Belgium)
Mountains classification
1 Robert Geskin (Holland)
Teams classification
1 Holland