The festival will attract cyclists from all over the country and the programme, catering for all categories as well as underage riders, will culminate with the Donal Crowley and Kay Stratton Memorial races on Sunday.
Timmy Barry is sure to claim a fair share of the limelight. The teak-tough Passage West man, who won Rás Mumhan on his return to cycling last year, enjoyed the biggest one-day success of his career to date when he won the Shay Elliott Classic in Bray three weeks ago.
Since then, he masterminded the Carlow Dan Morrissey success in what was an extremely competitive county team classification in the Rás, and he will have all The Edge team around him this weekend, including Rás Mumhan winner, Sean Lacey, Mickey Reilly from Turner’s Cross and Michael Fitzgerald from Cobh, who rode superbly in the An Post Rás.
The festival gets underway on Saturday evening (7.30pm) with a criterium race and they’ll have it all to do to dethrone last year’s winner, former international Brendan McLoughlin, around the Hedge Road circuit.
This race, sponsored by Brian Osborne Butchers, will be decided over one hour and five laps. Osborne, himself is a former international cyclist and his participation in the world junior championships was the best performance by an Irishman junior until Mark Scanlon won the title in 1998.
The action switches from the excitement of the Hedge Road circuit to the testing Blackstone Bridge circuit on Sunday morning with the U12, 14, 15, and 16 races, sponsored by the House of Kids Boutique, Ballincollig, getting the programme underway at 11.30am.
The Donal Crowley Memorial which perpetuates the memory of the late Blarney man who was a multi-stage Rás winner, will be decided over the circuit he graced with distinction.
The eight laps of the circuit which incorporates a stiff climb will be ideal for riders like Barry who could dominate if he has recovered from the Rás but it is going to be a big ask with Paudie O’Brien, Mickey Reilly, Michael Fitzgerald and Blarney’s Dave O’Mahony gunning for him.