Interview: Big win for Mark McNally

Liverpool’s Mark McNally wins stage race in France, La Mi-Août en Bretagne

Ecstatic is how Mark McNally describes the feeling of winning the four day stage race in France last weekend.  He finished the race tied on time with a Norwegian rider but due to his better finishes on the stages, Mark was awarded the winner’s jersey,  giving his team AN Post-Sean Kelly a big boost ahead of some big races in the coming weeks.

Mark went into the event knowing the par cours from the previous year and also, having had some good results, went into the race confident he could do something. Riding a Dolan bike (Dolan bikes are a team sponsor), he explained “I went in there hoping to win a stage but to come out with the overall, I was ecstatic to say the least.”

“I had a great team behind me as well. Pieter Ghyllebert had ridden for Topsport Vlaanderen  and he was very helpful on the last day as he knew what we had to do and the other boys were so strong, I was very grateful to them all.”

Asked where the key part of the race was for him, Mark replied, “days 2 and 3 were pretty pivotal like. On day 2, it worked really well when we had Mark Cassidy in a three man break early on and I got into a move later on the finishing circuit.”

“That meant I got a free ride across to the front of the race when I could start racing and I was feeling pretty fresh. I wanted to win there and with two laps go, I was probably feeling the best I have felt all year. I probably went a little early in the sprint though and a little Spanish fella came round me in the last 20 metres but second was a good result.”

Good indeed as the result helped Mark move up to second overall, 23 seconds behind the leader from Holland and equal on time with two others. His ambitions in the race were gaining momentum.

“That night, with the feelings I had in the legs, I knew if everything went right the next day, I felt we could take the jersey.”

Should Mark get selected for the Tour of Britain, he is hoping, like last year, he can get in a break and come away with a better result.

Mark explained how strong his young team were and the proof of that came 50k into the third stage when they decided to test out the race leader by attacking as a team. “We split the peloton but then we stopped riding because the jersey was still there.”

“It came back together and when we hit the finishing circuit, the attacks started in earnest. Ronan  McLaughlin (AN Post) would attack on the climb each time and then with three laps to go , I made a move with the  lad who won the stage and got away”.

“I was with one guy who was on the same time (Stian Remme) and another rider Gilles Devillers who was at five seconds overall. In all, there were five or six others in the group too. The lad who won the stage, attacked on the climb, and I was pretty much on the limit but I knew he wasn’t going to take seven minutes in two or three k!”

“I just had to finish ahead of the Norwegian (Stian Remme) to take the jersey which I did”.

Having the jersey was one thing, but keeping it was quite another especially when it was so close on the GC but Mark was confident. “I had beaten the Norwegian the day I was second and when I took the jersey and I think he knew I was a bit faster than him”.

“He was trying to make a move to get away and the guy in third at five seconds, Gilles Devillers, I knew really well and they attacked in earnest but the team looked after me. Every time something went, I was straight on it and when it came back together again, the team would take it up again. I could not have asked for more from the team.”

Mark went on to finish the final stage in sixth in a big bunch gallop where New Zealand’s Omnium rider Shane Archbold won. Mark’s closest rival Remme was back in 15th and that meant the Merseysider would get the leaders jersey for keeps this time and with it, his biggest victory so far in his short pro career.

His results though haven’t come easy. Mark, with the help of managers like Keith Lambert and Sean Kelly, has had to work at his craft as he explains. “The results have been steadily building and while the form has been a little bit better this year, it’s more about the work I have put in.”

“Like, I have worked a lot on my sprinting. I knew that I was getting to the front at a few races and was being outclassed at the finish so I knew I had to work on that. I was gradually learning from each race what I needed to change and it all added up in the end.”

Mark and his team now have a busy period in Belgium prior to the Tour of Britain and the team selected for that. Mark of course hopes he will be part of the team coming to Britain but hopes also that he can use his experience in the races he has to do in Belgium, to show his colours more than he has in the previous year.  Maybe even get a result and for Mark, that may well help him even further get ahead in the world of cycling … our thanks to him for his time today.

RESULTS  (La Mi-Août en Bretagne)

Stage 1
1. Kai Reus   Cyclingteam De Rijke  4:10:24
2. Florian Vachon   Bretagne – Schuller
3. David Chopin   Bretagne

10. Jonas Vangenechten   Wallonie Bruxelles – Credit Agricole  0:00:23
11. Luke Rowe   Great Britain
23. Mark McNally   An Post – Sean Kelly
26. Mark Christian   Great Britain
30. Erick Rowsell   Great Britain
53. Simon Yates   Great Britain  0:03:50
86. Thomas Moses   Great Britain      8.17
87. Fabrice Seigneur   Sojasun Espoir AC Noyal
88. Jonathan Mould   Great Britain

Stage 2
1. David Belda Garcia   Burgos 2016 – Castilla y León  4:14:07
2. Mark McNally   An Post – Sean Kelly
3. Stian Remme   Joker Merida

7. Mark Cassidy   An Post – Sean Kelly  0:00:11
24.  Luke Rowe   Great Britain  0:01:35

44. Remco Te Brake   Cyclingteam De Rijke  0:03:00
51. Mark Christian   Great Britain
55. Thomas Moses   Great Britain  0:03:37
64. Erick Rowsell   Great Britain  0:07:40
65. Jonathan Mould   Great Britain
66. Sébastian Kvaalsvoll   Plussbank Cervelo
92. Simon Yates   Great Britain
95. Stéphane Bonsergent   Bretagne – Schuller  0:09:04

Stage 3
1. Philipp Walsleben   BKCP – Powerplus  4:28:16
2. David Chopin   Bretagne  0:00:18
3. Anthony Vignes   Brest Iroise Cyclisme 2000

6. Mark McNally   An Post – Sean Kelly
22. Luis Mas Bonet   Burgos 2016 – Castilla y León  0:03:52
23. Simon Yates   Great Britain
24. Kaspar Schjonnemann (Den) Team Concordia Forsikring – Himmerland  0:03:56
30. Mark Christian   Great Britain
64. Erick Rowsell   Great Britain
69. Luke Rowe   Great Britain

Final Stage
1.  Shane Archbold (NZl) New Zealand  4:36:18
2.  Guillaume Blot   Bretagne – Schuller
3.  César Bihel   Bretagne
4.  Manuel Anton   Burgos 2016 – Castilla y León
5.  Luis Almonacid Mansilla (Chi) US Ste Austreberthe Pavilly
6.  Mark McNally   An Post – Sean Kelly
7.  Mark Christian   Great Britain
8.  Jonas Vangenechten   Wallonie Bruxelles – Credit Agricole
9.  Wietse Bosmans   BKCP – Powerplus
10.  Remco Te Brake   Cyclingteam De Rijke

14.  Simon Yates   Great Britain
47.  Erick Rowsell   Great Britain
52.  Luke Rowe   Great Britain

Final general classification
1.  Mark McNally   An Post – Sean Kelly  17:29:46
2.  Stian Remme   Joker Merida
3.  Gilles Devillers   Wallonie Bruxelles – Credit Agricole  0:00:05   .

16.  Ronan McLaughlin   An Post – Sean Kelly  0:05:13
17.  Connor MacConvey   An Post – Sean Kelly  0:06:30
18.  Mark Christian   Great Britain  0:06:38
30.  Simon Yates   Great Britain  0:14:41
35.  Luke Rowe   Great Britain  0:16:30
42.  Erick Rowsell   Great Britain
63.  Mark Cassidy   An Post – Sean Kelly  0:32:07
65.  Kenny Terweduwe   An Post – Sean Kelly  0:39:36
DNF  Pieter Ghyllebert   An Post – Sean Kelly

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