The Australian earned the lead in the special classification – by a single point – by being the first rider over the summit of one climb and placing second in two others during the 122-mile (196.4 km) race from Enniskerry to Waterford, Ireland.
Wilson said it was a bittersweet moment to pull on the jersey he won at this same race a year ago. He and teammate Valeriy Kobzarenko missed the decisive split of 23 riders that gained a more than two-minute lead on the peloton in the closing miles.
“I was really hoping to do something in the GC (general classification), but when crunch time came, I just didn’t have the legs,” Wilson said. “So basically, it’s now a race for the KOM jersey and maybe a stage. I guess the lack of racing, combined with an attacking day – going after the jersey – sort of caught up with me.”
Wilson is bidding to become the eighth rider in the two-year history of the Team Type 1 men’s professional program to win a King of the Mountains title. Earlier this year, Jesse Anthony earned the crown at the Tour de Taiwan and Shawn Mine was champion of the classification at the San Dimas (Calif.) Stage Race.
Saturday’s second stage is another 122-mile (196.4 km) race from Clonmel to Killarney. The race concludes Sunday with a 114-mile (185 km) stage from Bantry to Cork.