Southland cyclist Cameron Karwowski finished in the peloton to retain his challenge on the under-23 honours midway through the An Post Ras Tour of Ireland today.
Karwowski finished with the bunch in 17th place, nine seconds down on the winner in the challenging 135km fourth stage to Bundoran on the north-west coast of Ireland.
He leads the BikeNZ-Pure Black Racing national under-23 team although today's expected benign stage proved anything but as the attacks were plenty from the gun, as Piet Bulling, Scott Creighton and Taylor Gunman covered the potential breaks.
Karwowski pushed hard for the break with 15kms remaining along with the yellow jersey of Pirmin Lang (SUI) and two other general classification contenders, as they chased down the solo break away in the New Zealander's push for the lead in the under-23 honours.
The teams of the key challengers not in that break ramped up the chase with sufficient fury to split open the peloton, and they eventually reeled in the kiwi's brave move. He tried again with 5km remaining but after expending all reserves had to be content to finish in the peloton.
Denmark's Mark Pedersen took out the sprint from opening stage winner Marcin Bialoblocki although there is no change in the general classification with Lang leading but on the same time to British riders James Moss and Richard Handley and just six seconds separating the leading five riders.
Karwowski is in third place in the under-23 battle and 14th overall, 28 seconds from the yellow jersey with the remaining BikeNZ-PBR trio showing good strength to finish in the peloton and jump up the placings on general classification.
Meanwhile Auckland's Dion Smith, injured in a crash on yesterday's tough stage, has successfully undergone an operation after breaking his wrist and radius.
Tomorrow's fifth stage is a 149kms to the far north town of Buncrana on the Inishowen peninsula with five climbs including a category one test 13kms from the finish.
Results, stage 4, 135km Westport to Burdoran: Mark Pedersen (DEN, Blue Water Racing) 2:55.36, 1; Marcin Bialoblocki (POL, Britain Giordana) same time, 2; Remi Sarreboubee (FRA, Aix en provence) at 2 sec, 3. Also New Zealanders: Cameron Karwowski at 9sec, 17; Piet Bulling at 15s, 17; Taylor Gunman same time, 33; Scott Creighton at 1:58, 73.
General classification after 4 stages: Pirmin Lang (SUI, Jakaroo) 12:47.45, 1; Richard Handley (GBR, Rapha Condor) st, 2; James Moss (GBR, Britain Giordana) same time, 3; Also: Karwowski at 28s, 14, Creighton at 2:24, 41; Bulling at 3:51, 52; Gunman st, 54.
Under-23 overall: Handley 12:47.45, 1; M Pedersen (BWC) at 19sec, 2 Karwowski at 28s, 3.