Eight challenging stages, comprised of over 1,260 kilometres and 36 categorised climbs, the route of what promises to be an aggressive and exciting An Post Rás has beed launched.
The 2014 edition of the race will see Carrick-on-Suir play host to the stage six finish, with the next day’s racing beginning from there the following morning.
The action kicks off in Dunboyne on Sunday May 18 and takes an anti-clockwise route around Ireland with Roscommon, Lisdoonvarna, Charleville, Cahirciveen, Clonakilty, Carrick-on-Suir, Baltinglass and Skerries all hosting stage end finishes.
The race profile strikes a balance between flat, fast roads, undulating sections and tough climbs, with a total of five category one mountains and five category two ascents set to shake up the peloton.
Climbers will seek to make the most of stages such as Charleville to Cahirciveen on day four, which features no less than ten categorised ascent and the stage six, summit finish on Seskin Hill in Carrick-on-Suir.
However, race organiser Tony Campbell believes a good balance has been struck and that one group of riders will not be favoured over another.
“I wouldn’t say it is a pure climber’s race,” he said.
“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 really be on during those stages and I think the effects of that will tell on the third and fourth day when riders start to get worn out.”
Campbell added that the fourth stage from Charleville in Cork into Cahirciveen, Co Kerry has the potential to really shake up the peloton.
“The day around Cahirciveen is going to be a hard stage. It is over 180 kilometres that day and will be difficult. The climb up Seskin Hill will also be important, but there will be plenty of opportunity throughout the eight days for attacks. The speed and the distance will tell - they will make things hard.”
Former An Post rider Ronan McLaughlin was on hand to launch this year’s route alongside fellow Irish riders Roger Aiken and Connor McConvey. McLaughlin, who came agonisingly close to winning a stage following a heroic solo ride into his hometown in Bundoran in 2012, is busy putting together a Donegal based outfit for this year’s race.
“I’m working on getting a Donegal team together for the An Post Rás, which has been a very exciting new challenge for me. The course looks to be set up to give every rider a chance, although I think it will be won or lost in the tough middle stages where the mountains will have a big say in the outcome.”
The race gets underway on Sunday May 18, with a stage guaranteed to result in very aggressive racing. Starting in Dunboyne, riders will battle it out for bonus seconds at the Post Office Primes and Hot Spot Sprints in Athboy, Coole, Edgeworthstown and Ballymahon, with things being further enlivened by the category three climb at Richmount.
The pace will ramp up further before the finish in Roscommon, where the riders will fight for the stage win and, once the time gaps and bonuses are calculated, the first yellow jersey will be awarded.
An Post CEO, Donal Connell is looking forward to another exciting edition of Ireland’s top-ranked UCI race this year and today announced that An Post will continue to sponsor the Rás in 2015.
“This is the fourth year of our very successful partnership with the Rás. Together, An Post and the Rás bring incredible racing around the country and we receive massive support from communities all along the route. The 2014 route will deliver another special edition of the race this coming May and An Post is pleased to confirm that we will continue our sponsorship for Rás and through this, our support for Irish Cycling into 2015.
As a bonus for the County Riders, An Post is running a C-Factor competition, looking for the County Rider who best exemplifies the spirit of the An Post Rás between today’s launch and the final day of the race on May 25. He will earn the ‘Chapeau’ of his fellow riders and Rás watchers through his performance in this year’s event. He will be marked as one to watch for the future, not just through his An Post Rás results but also through his use of media and social media in particular. County Riders must use #ras2014 @anpostras with details on anpostras.ie.
Details of the international teams set to join this year’s An Post Rás will be released over the coming months. The An Post Sean Kelly team has already committed to participating.