It will travel anti-clockwise around the country, beginning in Dunboyne, Co. Meath, and featuring stage end finishes in Roscommon, Lisdoonvarna, Charleville, Cahersiveen, Clonakilty, Carrick-on-Suir, Baltinglass and Skerries.
There are five category one climbs and five category two ascents that will wreak havoc on a peloton made up of professionals, national squads and amateurs.
The eye-catching stage is Wednesday’s 183km trek from Charleville, Cork, to Cahersiveen in Kerry, where the riders will negotiate ten gruelling climbs – the last of which, known locally as the Coomanaspig outside Portmagee, comes with 20km remaining and is one of the hardest of the week. If that test isn’t decisive then Friday’s stage six from Clonakilty to Carrick-on-Suir will be, with the gruelling Seskin Hill providing a stunning stage-end summit finish. The climb was last used in 2010 when Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (now Team Sky) took the spoils.
Climbers will seek to make the most of those two stages and race organiser Tony Campbell believes a good balance between hilly and flatter days has been struck.
“I wouldn’t say it is a pure climber’s race,” he said at the route launch in the GPO, Dublin, yesterday. “There are climbs, but there are also a lot of fast roads where plenty of aggressive racing will be done.
“I think it is more or less one for a good, hard strong rider, a guy who can push up over the hills and who is also good when the speed is on. I think it’s an An Post Rás for the strong all-rounder.
“In some ways it is similar to last year’s route. The first two stages are mainly flat; although day two has a category one climb near the finish.
“The speed will be on during those stages and I think that will tell on the third and fourth day when riders start to get worn out.”