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John Dempsey's Rás 2013
John Dempsey Tipperary Iverk Produce Gives A Day To Day Account Of His 2013 An Post Rás

Richard Handley's Rás 2013
Richard Handley
Richard Handley went into this year’s An Post Rás Tailteann as Rapha Condor JLT’s team leader. Handley has consistently shown excellent form this year, taking several early victories and, after finishing an excellent 5th in the 2012 Rás, held realistic ambitions of a podium place.

The Rás though, perhaps more than any other of the races that the Rapha Condor JLT team will take part in, is an unpredictable and uncontrollable beast. The field is made up of 5 man teams, and the competition and terrain is savage at best.

Looking back over his race, Richard takes us through his week in Ireland with the Men in Black, and describes the ups and downs of vying for victory in the fabled Rás. More>>>

Men Of The Rás In The Tour de France 2013
John Dempsey
All of us in Ireland know that the Rás is by far the most important race in the world and everything else is a mere warm up to it or a cool down afterwards. Some ex riders of the race may insist that the lap of France that is happening at the moment is a little bit more important

All joking aside the Rás has always being a proving ground for some of the world’s best amateur riders and it’s a buzz for the county riders to be sitting at home on the sofa watching these guys in the tour and turning to the missus for the 100th time and saying to her “did I tell you about the time I bet him in the sprint for 50th coming into Scarriff in 08??”

So which of this year’s tour men learned there trade racing around Ireland in a May gone by?

By far the two most well know are Tony Martin who won the race in 2007 and Mark Cavendish who rode for the British national under 23 team in 2004.

James Moss Reflects On The Recent An Post Rás
James Moss IG Sigma Sport
“The long-running Irish stage race, known simply as the RAS to everyone involved in cycling, is one of the highlights of the year to many people, me included. It is a superbly organised event, on fantastic roads throughout Ireland with eight days of uncontrollable, aggressive racing. Perfect.

As IG Sigma Sport were going there with arguably one of the strongest teams in the race, we were all really looking forward to getting stuck in and getting some results notched up. If I was to say the race was pretty much a disaster for the five of us, I am pretty sure all but one rider would agree.

Problems began very early in stage one when Pete Williams became very ill after eating something that did not agree with him at all. Somehow he got through the 160k stage but, without going into the grim details, was in no state to get through the second stage without much food inside him. One rider down. More>>>

The Rás
Tom Southam
The An Post Rás Tailteann, or simply ‘The Rás’, as it is known, is a race to be enjoyed many years after it has been completed, when the pain and suffering of the event has been turned by time into a happy memory of the toughest of times.

The Rás, an eight-day pro-am stage race that takes place in Ireland each May, has been held annually without interruption since 1953, and is considered by many to be Ireland’s most important stage race. The Rás is in many ways unique, its UCI status, and Ireland’s close proximity to the UK, means that the race attracts a number of British and European Continental teams. But its strong Irish heritage also means that the field is made up of a mixture of professional teams and Irish county teams.

The county teams (who have their own overall classification to race for) are made up of perhaps the most determined club level riders on the planet, whose approach to finding themselves up against full time professionals is not to lay down but instead to attack, whenever and wherever they can. It's the inclusion of these county riders that makes the Rás what it is. It’s these riders, not the professionals, that change the bike race from just another tough European stage race with the tiresome routine of doomed, two-man breakaways slowly being reeled in. Instead, the inclusion of the county riders acts to democratise the race, make it unpredictable, and much, much harder.

From the county riders perspective too, the race is difficult, but perhaps in a different way to the many professional riders. Ultan Coyle, long-time designer for Rapha and also the current British 24 hour Time Trial Champion, is one such rider who, despite little experience on the road, has leapt at the opportunity to take part in this year's Rás. His story is one of many happily unconventional ones that make this great race what it is. More>>>

Famous Names In The Rás
Shay O'Hanlon, 62,65,66,67
Paddy Flanagan, 60, 64, 75
The 2008 FBD Insurance Rás rolls off from Navan on Sunday, May 18, and a week later another chapter in the history of the famous race, which began as a two-day event in 1953, will be completed with the finish in Skerries, Co. Dublin.

The race was called An Rás Tailteann for 30 years until the word “Tailteann” was dropped in 1984. Many older followers of cycling in this country regret that change but they retain fond memories of the giants of the road when it was purely an amateur event.

Riders like Gene Mangan and Mick Murphy from Kerry and Ben McKenna of Meath, winners in the 1950’s, were as well known as intercounty footballers from those counties at the time, and they were followed by two men who hold a special place in the history of the race.

Paddy Flanagan from Kildare was the overall victor three times between 1960 and 1975 and Dublin ace Shay O’Hanlon triumphed four times, first in 1962 and then a 1965 to 1967 three-in-a-row.

Paddy was just 16 years old when cycling on an ‘ordinary’ bike from his home in Kildangan, Co. Kildare, to Monasterevin when passed by a group of six racing cyclists from the local Midland Cycling Club who were out on a training spin.

Young Flanagan got in behind the group and when the speed went up, the racers were surprised that the teenager was still with them. So with the spin reaching its conclusion, they tried to drop the ‘intruder’ but instead it was four of the original sextet who dropped back while Paddy stayed with the other two. More>>>

Billy Kerr Honest Workman
Billy Kerr
A man who has captured the imagination of many sports-followers beyond the fringe of cycle-racing fraternity this season is big genial Billy Kerr from Ballymena.

At the age of 34 he won this Easter Tour of the North five-day international race in Ulster, for the second successive year, and then immediately flew to Manchester to start the Sealink International, of similar duration, the very next day. To everyone’s amazement – not least the teams from Great Britain, Czechoslovakia, France, Netherlands, Canada, Norway and Denmark – he won Sealink too.

This mid-Antrim man has left no doubt that despite all his participation in international events across the world – his travels last season included Canada and West Germany, and he was ninth in the 14-day Tour of Britain – he’s looking forward specially to competing for the first time in this big National Cycling Association promotion, the Health Race. Like many other Northern Ireland C.F. riders he enjoys racing over tough routes in the Wicklow Mountains and on many hard testing sections in the West – from Donegal right down to Valencia. More>>>

Stage Racing In Ireland
Henri Desgrange Founder Of The Tour de France 1903
Ever since Henri Desgranges founded the fabulous Tour de France away back in the early 1900’s, stage racing has caught the imagination of cyclists all over the world.

Here in Ireland the call came later than in most countries. Proximity to England caused the road sport to develop along Time Trial lines. However, even time-trialling was a poor relation branch of the sport for Track Racing was the big attraction.

The Split in 1949 swept away all the NCA roadmen leaving the NCA predominantly a track racing association with virtually no time-triallists so what road racing there was became Massed Start.

As the NCA regained strength this branch of the sport started tothrive and a road-racing calendar became established and naturally, fed on a diet of cycling reading which highlighted the Tour de France and such legendary figures as Coppi, Kubler, etc. the roadmen started to think in terms of stage racing.

The first stage was held in August 1950 when the Western CC, Belfast, put on a Belfast – Dublin – Belfast Two-Day for the Irish News Cup. (The Western had run a Belfast-Dublin one-day race since 1948).

"The Men Of The Rås"
Ray Kennedy
The Rás, or give it its full title An Rás Tailteann, was the brainchild of a Dublin barrister Joe Christle. He wasnt satisfied with a one day cycle race that lasted for just a few hours, he wanted to create a race that lasted for a whole week.

His dream was to create an event that would capture the imagination of the people at home and showcase the best of Irish athleticism to the world. On the 19th of September 1953, his dream became a reality.

The first Rás Tailteann was a two-day affair, from Dublin to Wexford and back, covering a little over two hundred miles.

In wet, miserable conditions, 52 cyclists set off from O'Connell Street, most of them having no idea of how they were going to cope with this new phenomenon of multi-stage racing.

During the 1940's and 1950's, the staple diet of the average racing cyclist was either short distance road races or out-and-back time trials against the clock. Indeed, for the majority of them, their weekly racing was at sports meetings where they raced on grass tracks over very short distances. More>>>

Cycling Ireland Interview With Dermot Dignam An Post Rás Director

Dermot Dignam
There was actually no tradition of racing in my family although everyone had bikes. My Dad & Uncle would have ridden everywhere so being on a bike was second nature. I was interested in riding and when I decided to join a club I went for The (St. James ) Gate CC. They were the only club in Guinness at the time that accepted outsiders (non-employees) and it was known that one of their members, Philip Clarke, had been captured during an arms raid on a British Army Barracks, which added a bit of allure for me at the time. Those earlier days of cycling in Ireland were highly poIiticised and it was virtually impossible to be impartial at the time. Not long after joining the Gate CC I was roped into being club secretary and that was really the start of my involvement in the admin side of the sport. Over the years I progressed through to eventually become President of the NCA (National Cycling Association) as it was known at the time. I put in a lot of hard work over the years and have been lucky to have worked with very good, like minded people which ultimately culminated in the previous 3 Irish Federations (NCA, ICF & NICF) merging in 1987 to form what we now recognise as Cycling Ireland. More>>>

Last Updated: Oct 21st, 2019 - 11:00:07

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