Cycling: Anderson's win fuels confidence

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The Independent Online
IT may have been by only seven seconds, but it was a classic victory that primed Phil Anderson for even greater classics to come. For 12 years the Australian has kept his professional career on the road, from taking the yellow jersey in the 1981 Tour de France until his latest triumph in the Nissan Classic Tour of Ireland which ended here yesterday.

Anderson, 34, is convinced that there are still three more years of racing left in his legs. Yesterday many more were convinced that he is still a force after 523 miles and five days of racing in which his Motorola team - especially the indomitable British champion Sean Yates - had to fight off the ambitious intentions of Stephen Roche, Sean Kelly and 80 or so other riders.

Anderson set up his victory run by outsprinting the Mexican Raul Alcala at Cork on Saturday, his sixth stage win since the first Classic in 1985. He started yesterday's 77-mile race from Naas with a lead of 10 seconds, but Alcala cut it to seven seconds by winning an intermediate sprint on the finishing circuit.

Anderson was happier once a group of 19 hopefuls sped away to fight out the finish which was won by Louis de Koning, of the Netherlands. 'I knew victory was secure when that group escaped on the final laps because they would clean up the bonuses,' Anderson said. Bonuses are time deductions earned at intermediate sprints and stage finishes, and can be crucial when leads are as flimsy as that of Anderson.

The Australian's confidence is now high for the final major dates, particularly the Paris-Tours classic, after a dislocated shoulder kept him out of the world championships in Spain.

NISSAN CLASSIC TOUR OF IRELAND (Fifth stage, Naas to Dublin, 77 miles): 1 L de Koning (Panasonic, Neth) 2hr 58:27sec; 2 A van der Poel (Tulip, Neth); 3 F Andreu (Motorola, US); 4 J Clay (Banana, GB); 5 B Grone (Telekom, Ger); 6 C Lillywhite (Banana, GB) all s/t. Selected: 7 M Earley (PDM, Irl); 14 R Holden (Leeds '92, GB); 31 S Kelly (Festina, Irl); 32 P Anderson (Motorola, Aus); 34 S Roche (Carrera, Irl); 38 S Yates (Motorola, GB); 54 E Breukink (PDM, Neth) all s/t as winner. Final overall standings: 1 Anderson 21hr 57:15sec; 2 R Alcala (PDM, Mex) +7sec; 3 A Tchmil (GB-MG, Rus) +8; 4 E van Hooydonck (Buckler, Bel) +13; 5 Roche +16; 6 L Leblanc (Castorama, Fr) +19. Selected: 9 Earley +39; 17 Kelly +42; 18 Holden; 20 Yates; 26 Breukink all s/t.