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Mathias Frank pulls off another top 10 finish for BMC in an important European race (Foto by Tim De Waele)
Mathias Frank pulls off another top 10 finish for BMC in an important European race (Foto by Tim De Waele)

Mathias Frank takes 6th overall at Tour of Ireland

23. August 2009

Cork

The final stage of the Tour of Ireland was raced in a torrential rain storm which forced the officials to reduce the number of circuits around Cork from three to just two. 

Since the steep climbs and equally steep descents looked more like waterfalls than roads, the safety of the riders took precedence over a strict adherence to the race distance.  Stage one winner and race leader Russell Downing proved he was the man of the race, ably defending his lead from the determined onslaught of Saxo Bank and Columbia.  Norwegian Lars Petter Nordhaug along with Downing rode away from the remaining lead group of ten to take the stage win while Downing was able to celebrate his overall victory.  Mathias Frank raced well to be in the Saxo Bank-powered front group, taking sixth place for the stage and sixth place in the overall. 

There is a reason the Emerald Isle is so green

"The whole team had a very good race today," Directeur Sportif John Lelangue said.  "It was really stormy all day with a lot of wind especially in the early parts when they were riding along the Irish coast, but the guys succeeded in concentrating on the goal of moving either Mathias or Florian into the top 10."  With small time gaps separating a large portion of the peloton, the stage began with a lot of different teams fancying their chances to snatch the overall.  Frank and Stalder started the day in 16th and 19th place, respectively, as part of a group of ten riders who formed a log-jam 26 seconds off the lead.  "It was not for certain that we would be able to make the necessary gains in the race, but the guys headed out there with a lot of motivation and rode very smartly," Lelangue explained.  The weather helped make the selection within the pack.  "It rained all day and was windy, but not very cold," Mathias Frank explained.  "So the weather was okay, and the racing was very fast from the start."  BMC riders were always making sure they were at the front in the big breaks.  "When the first big selection of 23 got away, we had Florian, Martin and Jackson present," Lelangue said. 

May the wind at your back always be your own

Hoping to work with the wind, many big teams were pushing the pace, creating an echelon effect which divided the peloton many times.  "I kept missing the big breaks early in the stage so I was pleased when it all came back together," Frank said.  The racing really got under way once the group hit the Cork circuits.  Saxo Bank and Columbia unleashed all their firepower in the hopes of breaking the race leader, Downing, but the Brit was able to counter anything thrown at him. "When we entered the circuits, seven guys including two from Saxo Bank and two from Columbia went off the front," Frank said.  "I bridged up to them on the downhill and I knew that we still had Florian Stalder and Danilo Wyss just behind me in the next group."  Though Frank hoped that his two teammates would be able to rejoin his group, that never happened and he was left to ride alone with the lead group of ten. "Close to the finish, the Downing and Nordhaug attacked," Frank said.  "I stayed with the Saxo guys because I knew they would turn themselves inside out to chase, but we still never caught the two guys up front." 

Steep climbs on the circuits not for the faint of heart

The rain made for dangerous conditions on the course, especially on the fast, technical downhills.  "It's a good thing they shortened the race because those downhills were crazy," Frank said.  "The climb up one side was steep which meant the downhill was just as steep and streaming with water.  I was happy I could follow the lead guys and I think I can be pretty pleased with a 6th place here."  A strong ride from Florian Stalder, Danilo Wyss and Tony Cruz pushed the BMC Racing Team into second place on the team classification for the event.  "Stalder finished 14th overall and Danilo would have been better placed if he hadn't suffered a mechanical 10 kilometers from the finish," Lelangue said.  "It was a really good race for us and I am pleased to see how well everyone pulled together."