Return of big climbs on testing Rás route

This year’s An Post Rás route is designed to provoke attacking racing while also giving the full-time working man, or county rider, a chance at being competitive, says race director Tony Campbell.
Return of big climbs on testing Rás route

Following a recent ruling by Cycling Ireland that no riders can upgrade to a category A2 licence so they can ride the country’s biggest stage race, Campbell was also keen to ensure only the cream of the home-based men can compete.

And yesterday’s route announcement was proof of that, with a whopping 25 climbs included, three of them category one ascents.

On paper, it’s a much harder race than 12 months ago, when there was no category one climb.

Making a comeback this year are three of the hardest ascents in the country. The Conor Pass in Cork on stage three, Ballaghisheen Pass in Kerry on stage four and Mount Leinster in Carlow on stage seven are all included in the race, which starts in Dublin Castle on May 22 and finishes on May 29 in Skerries after 1,200 kilometres.

“Boys talked about it being a flat circuit last year, it’s not a flat circuit this year,” said Campbell yesterday.

“But it’s not really hilly, it’s more undulating and it’s more competitive.

“I think it gives something to everyone. A flat route last year gave people an incentive to race and I think it’ll be the same this year.

“It doesn’t do any harm to throw in a pretty flat circuit every so often,” he added.

Campbell believes the race is within the grasp of the home-based riders, provided they train properly.

“Our boys have to learn to race, the home races are too short for our lads but someone like Bryan McCrystal and Ian Richardson showed how you can compete in the Rás.

“You can’t be going out riding 72km races on a Sunday and thinking that’s enough if you want to be competitive.

“I think clubs will have to start doing longer races and our boys will have to start riding to and from those races if they want to be up there.

“Bryan McCrystal coming into the sport late is an example to all. A lot of boys wouldn’t live with him today yet he’s a relative newcomer.”

Cork and Kerry again feature heavily in this year’s route, which bears some similarity to the 2014 edition.

Four of that year’s stage-end towns are back again, with Clonakilty, Charleville, Baltinglass, and Skerries all included.

Multyfarnham in Westmeath is where the peloton will head for on stage one as the race moves out of Dublin.

From there, the race goes from Mullingar to Charleville on stage two for what will be the longest of all stages at 183km.

From Charleville, the riders head for Dingle, Sneem, and Clonakilty on consecutive days before turning further east.

Dungarvan will play host to the finish of stage six after which the race heads north for Baltinglass and onto Skerries.

Stage 1, Sunday May 22:

Dublin Castle to Multyfarnham (144.6 kilometres)

Stage 2, Monday May 23:

Mullingar to Charleville (183.7 kilometres)

Stage 3, Tuesday May 24:

Charleville to Dingle (133.2 kilometres)

Stage 4, Wednesday May 25:

Dingle to Sneem (162.8 kilometres)

Stage 5, Thursday May 26:

Sneem to Clonakilty (148.3 kilometres)

Stage 6, Friday May 27:

Clonakilty to Dungarvan (159.1 kilometres)

Stage 7, Saturday May 28:

Dungarvan to Baltinglass (155 kilometres)

Stage 8, Sunday May 29:

Kildare to Skerries (148.4 kilometres)

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