Carrick-on-Suir will roll out the red carpet to nearly 200 top cyclists and their entourages when they visit the town in May for a stage finish and start of the An Post Rás.
The town’s plans to welcome the return of Ireland’s most prestigious cycle race on Friday May 23 and Saturday, May 24 were unveiled at a launch in the Carraig Hotel last Friday.
Special guests were local cycling legend Sean Kelly, and the town’s new cycling star Sam Bennett, fresh from his victory at the Clasica de Almeria in Spain.
Billy Kennedy of the Carrick Ras Stage End Committee, said he was delighted to welcome big-time cycling back to the town during Carrick Wheelers Cycling Club’s 60th anniversary year.
He said the race’s sixth stage from Clonakilty to Carrick will finish at Seskin Hill at 2.30pm on May 23. The area around the finish will be decked out with bunting and flags. Spectators will be issued with free t-shirts and flags for the occasion and music will be performed by local musicians involved in the Clancy Brothers Muisc and Arts Festival.
The Rás’next stage to Baltinglass will depart from Sean Kelly Square the next morning. It will be preceded by a ceremonial parade of the competing cyclists through the town centre from the Town Hall on New Street to the start point.
Mr Kennedy said the Rás will bring a big economic boost to Carrick-on-Suir. All the hotel rooms are booked up in Carrick-on-Suir, Clonmel and Waterford due to the Rás.
Sean Kelly, who climbed Seskin Hill four times in a Nissan Classic, said the hill was a great finish and he felt it was a pity a second lap of the hill wasn’t being thrown in for the end of the sixth stage.
Rás Director Tony Campbell described Seskin Hill as a “spectacular” stage finish and thanked the town and local organising committee for having the Rás back.
Mayor Cllr Kieran Bourke welcomed the Rás and noted it will be a historic occasion as it will be the last event a mayor of Carrick will be involved in before the Town Council is abolished.