After the announcement of fifteen international and professional teams for this year’s race, the Irish county teams to be part of the line-up of the 2013 An Post Rás have today been confirmed for the event.
|Damien Shaw AuqaBlue|
These include the strongest squads in the country, as well as a highly interesting Waterford Comeragh Race the Rás squad which includes two past winners of the event.
Former professional Ciarán Power is returning to try to add another stage win to his list; he’s also got two overall victories to his credit, while Andrew Roche won in 1997. Power and Roche will likely target stage wins. The team also includes another comeback rider, Michael McNena.
Their team is publicising the Race the Rás campaign, which completes the same route as the An Post Rás and which raises funds for the National Breast Cancer Research Institute.
|Mark Dowling DID Dunboyne|
As to the other teams, last weekend’s Tour of Ulster gives pointers to riders in strong form. Overall winner Damien Shaw has been in superb form this season and has impressed in many races; apart from winning the Tour of Ulster, he also triumphed in the Shay Elliott Memorial and other events.
He broke clear on the final stage with team-mate Bryan McCrystal, who was first to the line and also took the points classification ahead of Shaw.
Their Aqua Blue team dominated the team classification and will hope to do the same in the county team award in the An Post Rás. Shaw, McCrystal and their team-mates will certainly be ones to watch in the race.
|Bryan McCrystal AquaBlue|
Also riding well in Ulster were stage one runner-up David Watson, who is due to compete with the Down Chainreaction Flagship Store Boucher Road team, UCD’s Eoin Morton, who was third on the final stage, and under 23 winner Daniel Stewart. The latter two will be part of the Dublin UCD Arrow and Antrim Traction – McConvey Cycles teams respectively in the An Post Rás.
Similarly using the race as preparation was John Mason, third on stage one and riding the Rás as part of the Dublin Team 39 Spin 11 squad. Mason will be joined there by race route organiser and former stage winner Stephen O’Sullivan plus Eugene Moriarty, who has ridden strongly in sprints in the past.
Former An Post Chainreaction Sean Kelly team rider Ronan McLaughlin will compete in the An Post Rás again, two years after going agonisingly close to a stage win. Now back racing in Ireland, he is hoping to help develop young Irish talent and will don the colours of the Donegal Inishowen Gateway Hotel McCafe squad.
|Ronan McLaughlin Donegal |
Past stage winner and current Irish cyclocross champion Roger Aiken is back at the helm of the Louth North team, while a Louth South squad has also entered. Meath Dunboyne DID includes Cycling Ireland’s number one ranked rider Fraser Duncan, who took an exceptional three stages out of four in the recent Tour of the North, plus Kerry Group Ras Mumhan winner Mark Dowling and the Rás Naomh Finian victor Javan Nulty.
Harry Reynolds Memorial Anthony Doyle and Lucan GP runner-up Stephen Halpin will spearhead the Cork Midleton Velo Revolution Works selection, and Kerry Group Ras Mumhan runner-up Patrick Clarke will be part of the Mayo Ballina Fitscience team.
Kerry Group Ras Mumhan stage winner Cathal Moynihan will be part of the Kerry Aherns Opel/BMW team while Dublin South Alimay will include Ned Flanagan Memorial runner-up James Davenport.
The Irish county team’s lineup will be completed by Meath Navan Avonmore, Kildare Murphy Surveyors Apex Construction, Tipperary South, Tipperary Visit Nenagh.ie squad and Mayo Centra.
|Roger Aiken Louth North|
Race director Tony Campbell said that the county teams are as important to the race as the many international squads which will take part.
“While the international teams generally are more prominent due to their strength and experience, it’s also possible for the best county riders to mix with them,” he said. “However it’s not just about the overall standings and stage wins; county teams and riders have their own contests to aim for. That’s why we’ve introduced a new jersey competition this year, with the best county rider overall wearing a blue jersey each day.
“In addition to that, the participation of county riders is in itself of big importance to the race.”
The 2013 An Post Rás will begin in Dunboyne on Sunday May 18th and will feature stage end finishes in Roscommon, Lisdoonvarna, Charleville, Cahirciveen, Clonakilty, Carrick on Suir, Baltinglass and Skerries.
It will once again be a 2.2 ranked event on the UCI world calendar, and will feature a large number of international and professional teams.