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Darren Rafferty has put in a great ride in Italy today, with the other emerging Irish pro Archie Ryan just behind and also in the thick of it (Photo: Alessandro Perrone-SCA-Cor Vos)

Darren Rafferty and Archie Ryan, both EF Education-EasyPost, were off the front of the field in the finale of Trofeo Laigueglia (1.Pro), with Rafferty taking a very strong 6th place.

Rafferty was at the very front of the race, and Ryan in a group just behind, as the pressure was ramped up, mostly by a very strong UAE Team Emirates line-up.

The two young Irish riders signalled their intent as the business end of the race commence on earnest, positioning themselves very close to the front as the field was decimated on the first couple of laps of the hilly finishing circuit.

The 202km race, which started and finished in Laigueglia, came down to a tough finishing circuit, completed four times, featuring the climbs of Colla Mecheri – 2km at 8.2 per cent – and Capo Mele, which was 2km at 3.4 per cent.

When riders were spat out the back from the moment the climbing began – Rafal Majka of UAE Team Emirates doing the early damage on the front – it wasn’t until the penultimate lap that the key move went clear.

There were five men present, with Rafferty there for EF Education-EasyPost alongside; Lenny Martinez (Groupama-FDJ), Christian Scaroni (Astana Qazaqstan Team) and Jan Christen (UAE Team Emirates).

Young French hope Martinez was full of racing on the final lap, launching several attacks on the Colla Mecheri, with Rafferty responding, followed by the others.

However, as the Groupama-FDJ rider kept accelerating, eventually only Christen could follow him, though he soon was dropped as Martinez raced solo towards the finish.

Christen was then swept up by the chasing trio, with Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) getting across to that group, bringing its number of five, just before the finish.

Some 29 seconds after a delighted Martinez took the victory, Vendrame claimed the sprint for 2nd place just ahead of Ayuso, with Rafferty at the back of the group and taking 6th place.

Ryan was not too far behind – after a race in which the two young Irish riders really shone – and he took 13th place at 1:15, just ahead of Marc Hirschi (UAE Team Emirates).

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