There will be a strong British challenge at this year’s An Post Rás with the announcement today that the NFTO (Not for the Ordinary) and Madison Genesis Continental teams have both confirmed their participation in the UCI race beginning on May 22nd.
|Matt Holmes Madinson Genesis|
The NFTO team will be well known to Irish cycling fans, being the squad that national road race championship runner-up Eddie Dunbar competed with in 2015. Dunbar has since moved to a US based squad, but NFTO’s line-up includes some other very promising talent.
Josh Edmondson has been identified as one of the best young climbers in British cycling and backed up Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome during a two year stint with Team Sky in 2013 and 2014. He raced with the Irish An Post Chain Reaction Sean Kelly squad last season and finished a superb second in An Post Rás. Edmondson also impressively won the general classification in the Ronde de l'Oise plus a stage in the Tour of Azerbaijan.
He will be joined by Rás veteran Rob Partridge, who led the King of the Mountains classification for several days and finished fourth overall in the 2015 An Post Rás.
|Erick Roswell Madinson Genesis|
“The leaders are Josh and Rob,” states NFTO directeur sportif Tom Barras. “We can expect stage wins and a challenge for the overall.”
The duo will be backed by sprinters Liam Stones and Alex Harvey, as well as recent Noel Jones Road Race winner George Fowler. The riders have spent time in Spain and Belgium as part of their build-up and will fine-tune their preparation with a number of British domestic events.
The Madison Genesis team has already had a taste of An Post Rás success, with former team rider Liam Holohan winning the penultimate stage in 2014 and taking second in last year’s King of the Mountains classification. This time around the team will be led by Erick Rowsell and Matt Holmes. Rowsell won the King of the Mountains in last year’s Ride London Surrey Classic and was best Briton and eighth overall in the 2015 Tour of Yorkshire.
Holmes won the general classification at the Totnes Vire 2 Day race earlier this year. He has already had a taste of An Post Rás, netting fifth on the penultimate stage last season, and Madison Genesis team manager Dave Povall believes this could be a breakthrough year for the 22 year-old.
|Alex Harvey NFTO|
Also on the team is the Kiwi Taylor Gunman, winner of the 2015 Oceania Continental championship and the New Zealand Cycle Classic, former British National Junior Road Race champion, Tristan Robbins and past National Junior Time Trial champion, Joe Evans.
“The goal for An Post Rás will be the general classification with Rowsell and Holmes,” states Povall. “Stage wins are also very valued. In addition to that, combining the promising young riders Holmes, Robbins and Evans with experienced professionals in a multi-day international stage race is a key part of their development.”
Several of the riders for An Post Rás are expected to ride the Tour de Yorkshire as part of their build-up, lining out against some of the biggest teams in the sport.
|Tobyn Horton Madinson Genesis|
The An Post Rás squad will be directed by former Giro d’Italia stage winner Joan Horrach, a Spanish rider who was a pro with Ileas Balearas-Banesto/Caisse d'Epargne and Katusha.
An Post Rás race director Tony Campbell believes the two teams will play a big part in the outcome of the event. “The race has a very big reputation in Britain and each year teams from there are amongst the most aggressive. NFTO and Madison Genesis look set to be right in the thick of things and,
together with the other foreign teams, will ensure a gripping race.”
The two latest announcements bring the number of confirmed international squads up to ten. Those announced thus far are
|George Fowler NFTO|
squads from Australia, Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the USA. Several more foreign teams will be confirmed prior to next month’s event.
This year’s An Post Rás will total almost 1233 kilometres, and will include 25 categorised climbs. The race will roll out from Dublin Castle on Sunday May 22nd, with the venue chosen to mark the 2016 Easter Rising commemorations.
The world-ranked event will feature stage finishes in Multyfarnham, Charleville, Dingle, Sneem, Clonakilty, Dungarvan and Baltinglass before concluding in Skerries on May 29th.
|Tristan Robbins Madinson Genesis|
|Taylor Gunman Madinson Genesis|