An Post Chain Reaction: 2017 - A Successful Year
As the season has all but come to an end, we look back over a resoundingly successful year for the An Post CRC team.
In April, our resident strong man from Mullingar took stage 1 of the Tour de Loire et Cher. This win allowed Damien to also secure the yellow jersey at the esteemed French stage race which he held for the following 3 stages.
The team's most successful rider this year, Przemek Kasperkiewicz, more fondly known as Kasper, began his pursuit of his first professional contract with a win on stage 5 of the Tour de Bretagne rounding off a successful April for the Irish team.
The Rás has always been the race where An Post CRC has showcased the team to the highest level in order to prove worthy of An Post's long-standing commitment to the team and the Irish fans that line the road side, rain or shine. This year was no exception. On stage 3, young Irish man, Matthew Teggart took the victory in an uphill sprint and in doing so, grasped the race leader's yellow jersey.
The riders continued their Rás success just two days later when kiwi Regan Gough won stage 5 of the UCI 2.2 ranked stage race.
Not to be out done, Kasper was keen to continue his successful streak and took the final stage of the week's racing with a victory on stage 8 into Skerries.
To add to an already successful week, Kasper took home the King of the Mountains polka dot jersey and soon after secured an impressive stagiaire with the World Tour level Quick Step Floors outfit. He recently signed with Delko Marseille Provence for the 2018 season and the team wishes him every success in the future.
The team spent two weeks at altitude in La Molina, Spain, during the month of July and together with the CENIT centre in Cerdanya, the riders benefitted from training at altitude together with a holistic approach to performance encompassing nutrition, core strength and flexibility.
Immediately after his return to the world of track racing with Team GB, Scottish Mark Stewart became Individual Pursuit Champion Under 23, an immense achievement and one which surely marks the beginning of a long and successful track-racing career for the young Brit.
The Tour Alsace was yet another opportunity for the young team to display their talent and Bas Tietema delivered. The Dutch man delivered! The Tour Alsace has long been touted the real test for U23 riders and on the final day, Tietema stood on the podium not once, or twice but three times to collect jerseys for victory in the Combativity, Km70 and the points classifications. Chapeau!
The Tour of Britain was to follow and the young Yorkshireman, Jacob Scott, was to light up tv screens during the 8 days of racing from Edinburgh to Cardiff. On day 3 of the race, Jake took hold of the Kin of the Mountains jersey and fought hard to retain it in the harsh weather conditions the British countryside presented. On the final day of racing, the peloton split and Jake couldn't catch the break that had gone up the road. Although disappointing, to retain the jersey for so long was no oubt impressive.
The star of the final stage into Cardiff was Jake's fellow Brit, Mark Stewart. He made a brave attempt to go clear of some of the world's strongest teams and held them off kilometre after kilometre until being caught close to the finishing circuit in Cardiff. As reward for his brave effort, Mark earned a spot on the podium for the final combativity prize on offer at this year's race.
No doubt an impressive season for the team! With the team's future in doubt, the importance of this development squad for young riders cannot be underestimated. So many prominent names in the professional peloton have come through the An Post ranks and those opportunities need to be available for cycling's future talent!