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Damien Shaw Lights up the Tour of Brittany

posted 2 May 2017, 13:39 by Kevin Monaghan
(By Shay O'Toole - Sun. 30th April 2017)   
An Post Chainreaction rider Damien Shaw has continued his excellent run of form with some top class performances in recent days...
Rutland Classic:
On Sunday, April 23rd Damien and five teammates participated in the Rutland-Melton International CiCLE Classic in England. This 189km race is unique in that the riders have to negotiate several sectors of rough off-road terrain and even race through private farmyards. Shaw was in excellent shape entering this event after his stage win in Loir-et-Cher the previous week and held a good position at the front of the peloton for most of the day. However, three punctures in succession in the final 30kms put paid to any thoughts of glory this year but the miles and competitive racing is all good “training”.

Tour of Brittany:
After a quick wash and a sambo it was into the camper to return to France via the Channel Tunnel for his next engagement, the Tour of Brittany starting on Tuesday, April 25th.

This was a quality race with competition to match and this year included the team of World Tour rider, Fillippo Pozzato (8th in 2017 Tour of Flanders) which was using it as preparation for the upcoming Giro d’Italia.
The opening stage, a 153km race which departed from Rennes will live long in Damien’s memory. After spending more than 100kms in a breakaway with former World Tour rider Ruben Zepuntke (Team Sunweb), who he attacked and dropped in the final kilometre, Damien was cruelly swallowed up by the chasing peloton with a mere 100mtrs to go. Heart-breaking is the term often used by cycling commentators in these situations but such is the hardship of professional cycling. Despite the disappointment, this display once again put the An Post Chainreaction team’s number one rider in the spotlight of European cycling. 

Damien Shaw pushing on in the break at the Tour of Brittany 2017
Damien Shaw pushing on in the break at the Tour of Brittany 2017

The next three stages were fought out over the hilly Breton roads at average speeds of 40 km/h and then, on stage five, the Lakeside Wheelers man went at it again. This was another 155km race finishing with 5 laps of a punishing lumpy circuit. Shaw managed to get into the vital breakaway of the day with a second An Post rider for company and the Mullingar man drove the pace all day to ensure that the escape succeeded. With the average speed of this entire stage topping out at 46 km/h Damien sacrificed his chances of victory for his Polish teammate who had worked tirelessly for him at the Tour du Loir-et-Cher. Having started the day in 10th place on GC and 1’51” behind the overall leader this brilliant ride now left the former Irish national champion just 1’24“ off the yellow jersey and in 5th place on the overall standings, with An Post Chainreaction leading the Team competition.

The penultimate stage on Sunday was a 160km journey over slightly more friendly terrain than Saturday’s stage. However, with severe cross-winds and torrential rain to contend with it, it wasn’t long before the week’s racing began to take its toll and the luck that had graced the An Post Chainreaction team started to run out. Mid-way through the stage they had lost two riders and hosted the dreaded puncture fairy. However, after 145kms of hard riding Shaw once again went on the offensive attacking from the peloton in an attempt to bridge to the day’s 8-man breakaway. However, with 8kms to go and just when it seemed that he was about to attach onto the leading group his brave effort was brought crashing to the ground. With no major injuries, all that he could do was dust off, rejoin the chasing peloton and roll in, living to fight another day. The upshot of the day’s action was that he dropped from 5th to 24th on the GC standings but his fellow team member remains in 4th position so all in all, a good day’s work.
Results from the 7th and final stage were not available when these notes were submitted.

Damien Shaw in the King of the Mountains jersey at the Tour of Brittany 2017
Damien Shaw in the King of the Mountains jersey at the Tour of Brittany 2017