Loes Adegeest from the Netherlands led in a group of four in Piltown on Thursday to take victory in stage two of Rás na mBan.
The 25-year-old from the Jan Van Arkel team edged a tight sprint for victory ahead of Abi Smith of Team GB, Team Ireland’s Alice Sharpe and Smith’s Team GB teammate Anna Shackley.
Abi Smith’s disappointment at finishing second for a second day in a row was quickly tempered by the knowledge that she has taken over the lead of the race overall as well the lead of the Sport Ireland Points Classification and the Women’s Commission Young Rider classification lead.
Sharpe’s third-place finish moves her up to second overall ahead of Shackley and Adegeest with the leading quartet now 35 seconds clear of a group of eight riders led by former race leader Kaia Schmid (Team Lux)
Schmid missed the split at the head of the field which occurred just after the first of two ascents on the climb of Templorum after 56km of the 90km stage. The nine-rider chase group was 47 seconds behind as they took the bell for the second a final 20km finishing loop with the Lux squad of Schmid prominent in the chase.
The gap extended to over a minute and a quarter on the second climb of Templeorum where Anna Shackley took maximum points to move to within a point of Jo Tindley in the IVCA Wicklow 200 Queen of the Mountains Classification.
After that the gap started to dwindle and was back within a minute as the riders raced into the final 3km as the chase behind remained coordinated despite the presence of Imogen Cotter and Kelly Murphy from Team Ireland defending the interest of breakaway teammate Alice Sharpe.
As the leading quartet began to think about the finish, their pace dropped and the chasing group, now down to eight riders, got to within 35 seconds as Smith launched first in the sprint for victory.
Adegeest, a former Parkhotel Valkenberg rider, powered alongside and consigned Smith to second once again with Sharpe third and Shackley fourth.
Behind, Kaia Schmid ceded her overall lead but produced another fine sprint for fifth ahead of mountains leader Jo Tindley to stay in the hunt for overall, points and young rider competitions.
Winner in 2019, Josie Knight returns to Rás na mBan following a break from competition after her Tokyo Olympic medal-winning success but the Team GB rider still had the form to win the bunch sprint for 14th, just over four minutes behind Adegeest.
The Kilkenny County Council Best Irish Rider classification changed hands with Linda Kelly of Cycling Munster holding the green jersey on Friday’s mountainous third stage to The Cut in County Laois.
Friday is all about the climbers with the longest stage of the tour underway from midday in Castlecomer. Here’s how it looks.