STAGE 2, MONDAY 23rd MAY, PORTUMNA – KILRUSH 164KMS.
Portumna, Abbey, Ballinakill, Kilbecanty, Gort, Dunguaire Castle, Kinvara, Bell Harbour, Ballyvaughan, Corkscrew Hill Category 2 KOM, Losdoonvarna, Kilshanny, Ennistymon, Lahinch Hot Spot Sprint, Milltown Malbay, Quilty Hot Spot Sprint , Creagh, Cooraclare, Kilrush, Cappa, Kilrush.
|Last 3km. Map|
|Last 3km. Profile|
|Kilrush Town Map|
That 148 kilometre opening stage will be followed by a longer 164 kilometre race to Kilrush the next day. Passing through locations such as Ballinakill, Gort, Kinvarra and Lisdoonvarna, it is also mainly flat and will see high speed, aggressive racing from riders who are still fresh and remain in reach of the yellow jersey. There is one categorised climb just over 50 kilometres from the line, namely the second category Corkscrew Hill (km. 92.7) and it could act as a platform for a break to go clear.
That ascent is followed by Post Office Primes at Lahinch (km 116.7) and Quilty (km. 134.5), then a flat-out battle on and through Kilrush along the coastal road at Cappa before a fantastic finish on the wonderfully wide Francis Street in Kilrush.
“It is tough stage right down through Clare…beautiful, but heavy going all the way,” says Dignam. “The Corkscrew is a tough hill and will certainly provoke attacks by guys who can climb. I can imagine a break getting clear, as it is the type of stage that will take a fair amount of energy from the riders. With the climb coming at that point in the stage, you could very easily see a break going away and maybe staying clear until the finish.”