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Good show by Irish riders at Beverbeek as McNally takes 7th

Posted 25 February 2012

Cillian Kelly reports,

The An Post-Sean Kelly team got their classics season underway today at the Beverbeek Classic in Belgium where Mark McNally took an excellent seventh place on a solid day for the Irish riders in the race.

The 178km race was won by Tom Van Asbroeck (Topsport Vlaanderen).

Irish riders Sam Bennett, Mark Cassidy and Sean Downey were all present at the startline in Limburg, the best of whom was Downey who ended his first classic in 39th place.
Former Irish junior road race champion Jack Wilson also took part for his French UCS Crabbe team. The 18-year old finished in the main peloton in 45th place in what was arguably the biggest race to date in his fledgling career.

Bennett also finished in the front group taking 125th place. Cassidy was among the non-finishers.

Despite an almost entirely flat route, constant attacking made the race extremely hard. This was highlighted by the fact that the riders covered 47km in the first hour of racing.

Eventually, after nearly 70km of failed attempts, a group of six riders established a breakaway. The six managed to create a gap of over five minutes at one point, but the pace persisted in the peloton and the riders in the break dropped back one by one until the only escapee remaining was Frenchman Alexandre Blain (Endura Racing).

McNally, who was only racing due to the late withdrawal of Connor McConvey due to flu, was part of a ten-man move which broke clear of the bunch just as Blain was caught with 10km to go.

An Post-Sean Kelly team manager Kurt Bogaerts had expressed his desire to place a rider in the top ten of this Belgian semi-classic and the 22-year old McNally duly delivered, as he finished seventh in the ensuing sprint won by Van Asbroeck. 

The podium was rounded out by Ian Wilkinson (Endura Racing) and his team-mate Blain who had enough left in the tank to take third place.
The An Post-Sean Kelly team now turn their attentions to Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne which takes place tomorrow, where Ronan McLaughlin is due to be the sole Irish representative.
In this slightly more prestigious Belgian semi-classic a top 10 finish is again the objective for the team, as they look to build on their solid start to the classics season.

Result 2012 Beverbeek Classic

1. Tom van Asbroeck (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator) 4:00:09
2. Ian Wilkinson (Endura Racing) s.t.
3. Alexandre Blain (Endura Racing) s.t.
4. Justin van Hoecke (Wallonie Bruxelles) s.t.
5. Reinier Honig (Landbouwkrediet) s.t.
6. Matthias Allegaert (Ovyta-Eijssen-Acrog) s.t.
7. Mark McNally (An Post-Sean Kelly) s.t.
8. Dries Hollanders (Metec Continental) s.t.
9. Julien Stassen (Idemasport-Biowanze) s.t.
10. Johan Coenen (Team Differdange) s.t.

An Post-Sean Kelly Team:

25. Roy Jans (BEL) at 5 seconds
30. Joren Segers (BEL) s.t.
39. Sean Downey (IRL) at 8 seconds
55. Kenneth Van Bilsen (BEL) s.t.
125. Sam Bennett (IRL) s.t.
DNF Mark Cassidy (IRL)

45. Jack Wilson (Irl) UCS Crabbe at 8 seconds

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