Defending his race leader's jersey in the best possible way, Mark Cavendish galloped to a second successive stage victory in the Tour of Ireland today to net his fifteenth win of the year. The 23-year-old benefited from strong work by his Columbia team-mates and then turned on the jets in the final 200 metres, hitting the line in Loughrea comfortably clear of Michael Van Staeyen (Rabobank Continental), Maximiliano Richeze (CSF Group Navigare) plus seventy other riders left in the main bunch. Ciarán Power (Pezula Racing) was best of the Irish riders in eighth place
The time bonuses saw Cavendish pull further away from his rivals with regards the general classification. The Manx-man ended the day 13 seconds ahead of yesterday's runner-up Julian Dean (Garmin Chipotle) and a further second ahead of Alexander Kristoff (Joker Bianchi). In addition to that, he remains best young rider and took over the lead in the points classification. Matt Wilson (Team Type 1) continues in the King of the Mountains jersey.
Cavendish was full of praise for the Columbia squad. "The team rode all day again," he said. "Despite being on the front for so long, they still had the kick to lead it out full-gas from five kilometres to go. They were able to keep the pace fast and that is how strong my team is. I think that without them, my form is not good enough to do anything here.
"Basically, they keep me protected all day and then gave me such a perfect lead out at the end that I really had to finish it off with a win."
For a complete report with results and photos, visit Cyclingnews.com.