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M. Donnelly Junior Tour of Ireland - NE
Ireland, August 3-8, 2004
Stage 6 - August 8: New Ross - Waterford, 43 miles
Stannard sails home in the wet
By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent
Ian Stannard carved his own piece of history today when he became the youngest participant to win the overall title in the M Donnelly Junior Tour after six stages based mainly in the Waterford area. From Milton Keynes in England, Stannard is no stranger to success in bike racing. This year alone his tally is 21 wins including a number in Europe when he has been away on representative teams.
He started out last Tuesday on the first stage in the time trial in Portlaw, 17 seconds off the pace set by Thijs Amerongen of Holland. The following day he clinched victory on a very tough stage, which included a number of Category One Hills in the Clonmel area, but his advantage was not sufficient to go into yellow. This went to Arjen de Batt, also of Holland, who went out the next day and made no real effort, despite the cajoling of his team management, to consolidate his number one position on the leader board. A break developed towards the end of the third stage which finished in Waterford, including Ian and what more or less turned out to be the main players for overall victory.
Friday's stage for all intents and purposes was presumed to be the defining factor in the 27th edition of the Junior Tour. The organisation had included a very steep climb, Carney's Hill, that was regarded as a cruncher. The consensus was that since Ian is a fairly big size for his tender years, he might lose time on the climb, which they had to go over three times. He had none of this and played a stormer when his teammate, Daniel Martin hovered off the front of the bunch for virtually all of the final lap. This took immense pressure off Ian's shoulders, which necessitated those close to the top position on General Classification to peg back the leader on the road. In hindsight this was a brave move by the GB boys who took a calculated risk and fortunately it paid off with Martin winning the stage and Stannard staying in yellow.
The penultimate stage on Saturday around Youghal in Co. Cork on paper did not look to be of any great concern to the overall leader and those below him in the rankings, but there was a sting in the tail when a group of five moved ahead on a stretch of road known as the "Sweep" just beyond Dungarvan. In the beginning it caused no irritant to Stannard and his team, but when the lead went up to over a minute plus, alarm bells began ringing. He rallied the team around him, but the headwind they were riding into disrupted their efforts. They were isolated and with no help from any quarter they looked to be stranded.
Fortunately the South Africans were in the same predicament. They had not travelled so far to see their slice of the prize money disappear. They made a concerted effort along with Stannard and eventually they got the deficit back to 1'10 seconds before the finish line which was just about good enough to keep his title hopes alive.
Whereas prior to the start of the stage in Youghal, Stannard regarded Peter Williams of team North West BCF and Pieter Henning of South Africa as his closest challengers, now he had six to contend with all within 17 seconds of his delicately balanced overall lead.
Today when he saw the rain dancing on the roads, he knew that he had to be at his best to defend his lead. Throughout the 43-mile stage he never left the top 20. Towards the end a group of seven went forward with no danger to his position. On the run in to the finish in Waterford all bar two were reeled in.
Ireland Stena Line had its first victory of the JT when Martin Munroe got his wheel in front of Rob Blundel of Wales, but back safely in the bunch was the overall winner of the Martin Donnelly Junior Tour for 2004.
"Yes, I'm glad it's over," said Stannard. "Defending a race leader's jersey has to be tough. I had a good team and the support from the back room team was excellent. The rain was horrific, it was like somebody had switched on a tap at full blast and forgot to turn it off. You just would not know what would happen. Now I can relax and listen to my music and I have the chance to come back and defend the title next year," said Ian.
Ian has also created another piece of history. He won the "Youth Tour" promoted by the Killorglin Credit Union Cycling Club. So maybe down the road he'll also come back and have a go at winning the "Ras".
1 Martin Munroe (Ireland-Stena Line) 1.43.19 2 M. Blundel (Wales) 3 G. Thomas (Wales) 0.03 4 J. van Heerden (South Africa) 5 R. Sander (Wales) 6 D. Clifford (Killorglin) 7 B. Siebritts (South Africa) 8 A. Ferrero (USA) Final general classification 1 I. Stannard (Great Britain) 9.20.37 2 R. Gesink (Holland) 0.06 3 P. Williams (Team North West BCF) 0.08 4 H. Pieter (South Africa) 0.14 4 A. de Batt (Holland) 6 M.Nestor (Ireland) 0.15 7 J. Venter (South Africa) 0.17 8 D. Martin (Great Britain) 1.06 9 T. van Armongen (Holland) 1.09 10 P. Muscat (Belguim) 1.19 Points classification 1 A. de Batt (Holland) Mountains classification 1 R. Gesink (Holland) Team classification 1 Holland