The 2015 national road race champion is enjoying a brilliant season and will go into the race full of confidence and intent on ending his long wait for a stage win.
He’s also been inside the top 10 on General Classification in recent seasons and this year he’ll have the backing of fellow Irishmen Sean McKenna and Matthew Teggart, as well as Polish sprinter Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz and the experienced Kiwi track rider Regan Gough.
The team will go into this year’s race brimming with belief following some impressive results and performances recently. Shaw took the first professional victory of his career last month, soloing to victory on the opening stage at the Tour Loir Et Cher (2.2) while Kasperkiewicz secured a superb stage five win at the Tour de Bretagne (2.2).
Matthew Teggart in particular has been working on a very specific training programme to get ready for the Rás and Damien and Sean have both experienced it before so we’re looking forward to it.”
This year’s race features stage finishes in Longford, Newport, Bundoran, Buncrana, Dungloe, Donegal, Ardee, and Skerries. The race comprises eight days, totalling 1,200 kilometres and includes 21 categorised climbs.
Meanwhile, Silvan Dillier (BMC Racing) claimed the biggest win of his career yesterday with victory on stage six of the Giro d’Italia in Terme Luigiane.
The Swiss rider beat fellow breakaway companions Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) and Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) in the sprint to the line after more than 200 kilometres out front.
As they were no threat to the general classification they were allowed escape up the road and build a maximum advantage of eight minutes on the peloton.
Dillier was outnumbered two-to-one in the break with Stuyven joined by his young Danish teammate Mads Pedersen, Simone Andreetta (Bardiani CSF) and former maglia rosa and Giro revelation Pöstlberger. The five riders built up a handsome lead on the peloton but only Dillier, Stuyven and Pöstlberger survived as the line approached.
By the time they reached the finish they only had 39 seconds on the reduced front group which included all the pre-race favourites including Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Mikel Landa and Geraint Thomas (both Team Sky), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Adam Yates (Orica-Scott) and home favourite Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida).
Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) also finished safely in that group to retain his race lead over second-placed Thomas and Yates.
Ireland’s Sam Bennett endured a tough afternoon as he rolled across the line 14 minutes down but he won’t be at all concerned by that as he looks forward to the flatter days.
The other Irish rider, Team Sky’s Philip Deignan was over four and a half minutes down yesterday but he was on domestique duty for the aforementioned Thomas and Landa who are just six and 10 seconds off the pink jersey, respectively. Today’s stage takes the riders a mammoth 224 kilometres from Castrovillari to Alberobello and there’s just one category four climb after the midway point.